A Dallas Restaurant Put Up A Subtle Gun Control Message — And Got Violent Threats In Return

by Caitlin Cruz
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Ellen's, a popular brunch restaurant in Dallas, received threats for its pro-gun regulation message at the bottom of its receipts. The restaurant had noted in its receipts that it plans to donate a portion of profits to organizations working on gun reform that were earned during the weekend's National Rifle Association convention, sparking backlash among convention attendees and internet trolls alike.

The offending message on Ellen's receipts? "A portion of this week's proceeds will be donated to organizations dedicated to implementing reasonable and effective gun regulation. Welcome to Dallas!"

Owner Joe Groves first shared the receipt Thursday on Facebook, and alleged that the convention attendees were making racist comments while eating at the restaurant, according to the Dallas Observer. "I’m making a list of the vile, racist, moronic conversations overheard from NRA attendees eating at the restaurant. They don’t even speak softly," Groves wrote when he shared the receipt.

There are plans for protests all weekend outside the convention that's expected to bring some 70,000 people to downtown Dallas. "NRA Enables Domestic Terrorism" was projected on the side of the convention center.

As with any large convention or gathering, downtown restaurants and stores hope to make extra cash from the influx of potential new customers. But when the NRA shared the receipt from their official Twitter account, the restaurant waded into the culture wars around guns in a very different way.

"We’ve had people calling and say they’re going to shoot the place up, one that implied he would be burning us down today. Ridiculous people," Groves told BuzzFeed News.

But even before the NRA's tweet, Ellen's had decided to amend the message for the sake of clarity. In a message updating its followers on Facebook, Ellen's said it shares similar goals with the NRA.

"We support the Constitution, including the 2nd Amendment, 100%. And like the NRA, we also support finding solutions to the senseless killings that happen much too frequently. We believe those two things are completely compatible," a Facebook post by Ellen's on Friday reads.

Ellen's has since updated the message at the bottom of the receipts:

Thanks for visiting Ellen's! A portion of this week's proceeds will be donated to organizations dedicated to implementing reasonable and effective gun regulations that protect citizens' 2nd Amendment rights and also help reduce needless gun violence. Welcome to Dallas!

The NRA has not shared the updated message on the organizations social media channels.

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Between the Parkland shooting, which sparked massive protests around the country, and the deadly shooting of police officers in Dallas in 2016 blocks away, Groves hoped the message on both receipts would be reasonably received. In fact, Groves told the news service that he doesn't lobby against the NRA and is a strong supporter of the Second Amendment.

He described the "reasonable and effective" message of the first receipt as a "fairly benign and centrist view". Groves told BuzzFeed News: "My view is to protect the Second Amendment but keep people from murdering children in schools."

Dozens of reviews were added to the restaurant's Yelp page in the past two days — ranging from one-star reviews upset with the pro-gun regulation message to five-star reviews by those trying to support the establishment. "I thought I went here for breakfast but instead was given a lesson in firearm politics. I go out to get away from that bs but they make sure you know that part of your payment is going to gun control. Geez. Good luck with that stance," one reviewer wrote.

Ellen's has not announce what organization will receive their donation. Groves says the past few days haven't negatively impacted their sales, with BuzzFeed News describing Saturday's brunch as "busier than normal."