Billy Welch just wanted to grab a bite to eat at the local Waffle House in Nicholasville, Kentucky, over the weekend.
But when Welch, a soldier with the National Guard, went into the restaurant dressed in his uniform with his gun on his hip, managers asked the young man to take the firearm outside.
“I got up and I walked over to them, asked them how they were doing and stuff, and they said I’d have to take my firearm outside,” said Welch in an interview with Lex18.com. “I don’t feel comfortable taking my firearm away from me. I always keep it with me and they said, ‘it’s one of our policies.’”
Welch decided that he didn’t want to eat in a gun-free zone and told the waitress that he was going to leave.
“You know, if I can’t have my firearm, then I can’t be here,” said Welch. “I walked inside to the other waitress. I said, ‘thank you, but no thank you ma’am. I’m gonna have to leave.'”
Waffle House patron Micaela Shaw saw the exchange and was troubled by the fact that Welch was not allowed to be in the restaurant with his sidearm.
“I have a bunch of family members and friends who have been active military and in the military and retired and it hurts my feelings when people disrespect them,” said Shaw, who was sitting in a booth nearby. “I just wanted to stand up for him.”
Meanwhile, the Nicholasville Waffle House released a statement iterating its policy on firearms, “For many years we have had a “No Firearms” policy in place in our restaurants. We continue to believe this is the best policy for the safety of our customers and associates.”