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Local VFW pulls the welcome mat for Guns Save Life

March 11, 2017



You need another reason to get involved at the local level?  Pushing back against anti-gun bigots

by John Boch
There remain plenty of uninformed, ill-informed and just plain bigoted people out there who don’t like guns.  Bigots in particular will discriminate against gun owners at any opportunity.  Our mission at Guns Save Life is to defend your right to defend yourself.  That includes working as the “boots on the ground” to call out this discrimination and fight it where possible.

At the March Guns Save Life meeting in Charleston, our local directors were greeted with an 8×11” “no guns” sign on the front door of the Charleston VFW.  The sign hit them about as subtly as a 2×4 to the face.

Inside, the “warm” welcome continued with a man who held himself out to be the new business manager.  He appeared quite agitated and possibly more than a little intoxicated as well.  He communicated that he didn’t want guns in “his” VFW.  

He returned a short while later to rehash the earlier tirade, perhaps after more liquid courage.  I interrupted him.  “No problem sir.  This is our last meeting here.  Problem solved.”

Why the sudden change in direction from the veterans’ organization?  The man told us a GSL member passed out drunk at the bar the Sunday before – with a gun out in the open.  That was news to us, and nobody read a report in the local paper of police making a related arrest.

The same agitated and possibly intoxicated man told me that he supports “Guns Save Lives” and our mission.  He bolstered his claim not with a GSL or NRA membership card, but with a claim that he and his wife sent off applications for both their Illinois and Florida concealed carry licenses that same Sunday.  When I pointed out that one needs an Illinois license to apply for a Florida license, he seemed even more agitated.  “I know, because I spent $102 on an Illinois license!”  Maybe he got his on sale.

The truth then came into focus.  He didn’t want us bringing or carrying guns in “his” establishment.  They had a bar, which he said the law prohibits them from having guns on premises (it does not if they derive less than half their total income on booze sales), and some gaming machines (only gaming facilities licensed under the Riverboat Gambling Act or “Off-track betting” facilities have a blanket prohibition on CCW).  

In short, the man’s stature shrunk before my eyes.  God bless him for his service in our nation’s armed forces, but his bigotry is despicable, not honorable. He droned on as he tried to “educate me” on how “his” licenses were at risk.  He wasn’t interested in listening, only lecturing.  That’s why he put up the sign to keep our guns out.

I shouldn’t have, but I laughed at the little man.  “You should try putting up a legally binding sign then, sir.”  That just made him madder.  First, “it was binding” he claimed of the sign, then came claims that “he knew” it wasn’t.  He just kept digging.

In the end, he left.  We held another great meeting with a near-record attendance.  And we wont be back to the Charleston VFW.  Not until more sober-minded adults reassert themselves in leadership.

In the meantime, we’ll take our guns and our money elsewhere.  Granted, we only brought in a few hundred dollars a month into the VFW in rental fees and related business, but that is our hard-earned money.  That represents gun owner money.

I didn’t find it surprising that one of our members taped one of our “No Guns = No Money” cards to the door under the sign.  

Indeed.  Kudos to the GSL member who did that.  It sums things up nicely.


18 Responses to Local VFW pulls the welcome mat for Guns Save Life

  1. Parabellum on March 11, 2017 at 8:57 am

    Haven't been to that particular location.  Sounds like I won't get to experience that particular VFW's unique brand of hospitality. 

    I usually think of VFWs as semi-sacred places for their dedication to honoring the fallen and those who have served.  Too bad not all of the men inside them are as honorable as they could be.

    • KK on March 11, 2017 at 10:06 am

      I usually think of VFWs as places where people go to drink and/or get drunk. Aside from the GSL meeting, this story reinforces that thinking. 

  2. Racerdave on March 11, 2017 at 9:01 am

    Someone needs to talk to the board of directors that hired this new manager. 

    • William Harrison on March 12, 2017 at 9:20 pm

      Greetings all,

      I would like to add a few details that have not been presented yet.

      As the Co Regional Director for the Charleston GSL mtg, I would like to point out that guidance had been given to me from GSL officers that as long as we had verbal permission from the manager of a facility, which offers the sale of liquor and has gaming machines in their building, to meet in a separate location within that building, that we could do so.  I had received that permission from the Bar Manager before our first mtg there in June, 2015.

      On 8 Mar, following our mtg, the person who had informed us that the Officers of the Post had voted on 2 Mar to deny us future permission to meet there.  He identified himself as the Post Quartermaster, and stated that he was delivering the message to us. He went on to say that the Bar Manager did not have the authority to grant us permission in the first place.

      During the conversation I had with the Quartermaster, he voiced his concerns that the organization that issues the licenses for their Gaming and Liquor sales MIGHT cancel their licenses, thus depriving them of the opportunity to produce the revenue which supports their Post and Club.

      I have made inquiry at our local Elks Club and they also held the same concerns, but clearly indicated that they would contact their licensing organization to obtain a definite statement regarding GSL holding a mtg in an area under the same roof, but separated from the Bar and Gaming areas by movable curtains.  There was no statement made by the Quartermaster  indicating that the VFW had contacted their licensing organization and had been informed by them that we could not meet there without causing the loss of their Bar & Gaming licenses.

      I have attended numerous mtgs in Champaign Co where exactly the same scenario exists.

      To my observation, the question is whether we can meet under the same roof of a buillding which has a Bar or Gaming area, and that is different than meeting in the same room which has a Bar or Gaming area.

      A search is under way to locate another mtg location.

      There are very few locations here in Charleston which could accomodate a mtg of our size and regularity.  Yes Mattoon and Ashmore exist as possibilities which can be researched.



      I hope that clears clears up the points brought up by Racer Dave and Chuck.

      • Proud Deplorable on March 13, 2017 at 5:30 pm

        Personally I'm elated to go elsewhere. The acoustics in that dump suck and I can't hear half the meetings anyhow and the men's room is filthy. What about the Unique Hotel or a venue in Mattoon where there are lots more restaurants to chose from?

      • William A Harrison on March 13, 2017 at 9:07 pm

        As many potential mtg sites as has to be reviewed will be checked into until a suitable one can be found.

        Any and all suggestions will be appreciated, but if you think you know of a specific location, please identify it so we can proceed more efficiently.

        Churches were not mentioned, but I have a couple on my list to check, as well as the Worthington Inn aka Unique Hotel..

        Thanks to all for your input.

        I hope to see you all in Rantoul tomorrow eve (14 Mar) at the Knights of Columbus Hall.

  3. Birdman on March 11, 2017 at 9:14 am

    I was at the Heyworth VFW a few years back and it was posted too.

    • jboch on March 11, 2017 at 9:34 am

      In my relatively limited experience, it's not uncommon for VFWs to post the bar entry doors.  At the same time, their "meeting room" and restaurant entrances are typically not posted.  It seems like a happy middle ground to satisfy those worried about guns in the bars, while not riling up gun owners too much.

  4. Hugo on March 11, 2017 at 9:41 am

    I was at that particular meeting a couple of times.  I was glad they kept the meeting separated from the bar.   On going to the restroom, I saw the bar and noticed more than a couple of "professional drinkers" there.  Looks to be a good place for the local cops to pick up some DUIs without even trying once the GSL people clear out.  It's a damn shame this guy did this.  He should have left well enough alone.  GSL has a long and proud history of doing a lot of good things to recognize and help veterans.

  5. David Deplorable on March 11, 2017 at 9:53 am

    Despicables unwelcome there.  While I doubt that drunk speaks for the membership, what's done is done.  Don't sweat it.  Take your money and message to a place with leadership that welcomes freedom and liberty.

  6. Gunsmittys on March 11, 2017 at 11:22 am

    This seems to be a trend, The VFW down the hill has a nice sign posted as well…it seems that firearms are the reason Vets commit suicide in the eyes of the old men. Perish all the booze, drugs from the VA and lack of support from the old men's clubs. The oldtimers are quick to point out they fought real wars in Korea, Vietnam..not many WWII Vets left.

    The VFW, American Legion in the tri-state area are nothing but private old men's drinking clubs. This is why they have a hard time attracting Vets from OIF/OEF and other operations during the Cold War.

  7. Illinirzr on March 11, 2017 at 12:35 pm

    All though it's not a deal breaker,  but how about a place where we can keep our ball hats on? 

  8. Lori Fowler on March 11, 2017 at 5:24 pm

    I am President of auxiliary at a VFW post and while I  realize the reason we are here is because of those who served, I would reserve the right to not allow guns in our post while alcohol is served.  Just asking for trouble.

    • SED on March 12, 2017 at 3:04 pm

      The Illinois Concealed Carry Act does permit carry in areas where alcohol is served.  The statistics do not demonstrate any increased risk in such a situation.  What statistics are very clear in establishing is that gun free zones are killing zones.  As a manager you have the right to prohibit the carry of a carefully scrutinized CC permittee but you cannot do a darned thing to stop criminals.  It's your choice to post and it's my choice to avoid your business and watch for your name as a crime victim. 

  9. Chuck on March 11, 2017 at 7:39 pm

    Being a VFW member I question this whole "news" story. Possibly just more fake news, from someone‚Äč with an axe to grind with the VFW. Notice the lack of a Post number. So-called manager would not have the authority to make the decision about guns. That would be up to a vote of the post members.


    • Mark D Emenecker on March 11, 2017 at 11:17 pm

      The GSL meeting has been there monthly for at least a year.  Sorry I don't know the VFW post number.  The story is not fake.  I attend those meetings. The 'No guns" sign appeared this month. The co-director of the meeting related some of this info to us about the sign.  Also the author of this story-Executive Director of the organization-was at the meeting.


  10. johnjohn on March 11, 2017 at 11:30 pm

    Maybe the VFW does derive more than half its revenue from alcohol sales or the Charleston post does ……Illinois concealed carry law is very ambigious on this topic as no one knows what actual percentage an establishment derives its revenues from whether it's from alcohol sales or other sources….the only obvious busineses are taverns that one can reasonably assume most all revenues come from alcohol sales…..perhaps it is time to move on to a second amendment friendly establishment who would gladly welcome our business……our Charleston coordinators  mentioned the Elks club as a possible meeting venue….if not I would suggest  the Charleston masonic lodge or the Ashmore community center as a posssible meeting place…..they will let everyone know before the next meeting so check The GSL website for more information.

  11. jboch on March 12, 2017 at 7:49 am