The National Rifle Association called for a boycott of a Dallas diner. It backfired spectacularly.
With the NRA coming to town for its annual meeting in May 2018, Dallas restaurant Ellen's printed a special message on the bottom of its receipts. It read:
"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. Welcome to Dallas!"
After a bit of confusion over what the restaurant meant, they later added "that protect citizens' 2nd Amendment rights and also help reduce needless gun violence" to the end of the message. They published a Facebook post apologizing for confusion, but by then, it was too late.
The NRA had already published a tweet containing a copy of the original version of the receipt, urging its members to "steer clear" of the restaurant as well as to "#StandAndFight," calling on convention attendees to boycott.
Attn @AnnualMeetings attendees. Steer clear of Ellen’s in downtown Dallas! Why go there when there are so many othe… https://t.co/TduwLFRsiz— NRA (@NRA) 1525480835
Now, there's nothing wrong with boycotts. People are more than welcome to decide where they want to spend their money. It's just a little ironic given that the NRA's response to people calling for boycotts of NRA-affiliated companies was to call the ordeal a "a shameful display of political and civic cowardice."
In addition, NRA spokesperson Dana Loesch has regularly tweeted about how she doesn't believe in boycotts and wouldn't call for one, once writing, "I hate boycotts." Again, though, that's exactly what the group's "steer clear" message was encouraging: a boycott.
I’ve never been part of a boycott in my life. I’ve chosen as an individual to do certain things but I don’t call for boycotts.— Dana Loesch (@Dana Loesch) 1439425964
As soon as the NRA's tweet went up, Ellen's said it began receiving a flood of hateful calls and reviews from NRA supporters.
In a video for Now This News, Ellen's co-owner Joe Groves recalled the immediate aftermath of the NRA's tweet.
"We were being told that we were being shot up, to expect a bomb at any time, that they would be visiting but they don't want to be there when the explosion happens. Our staff has been harassed," he said.
Thankfully, no one followed through on the violent threats. Instead, NRA supporters apparently tried to mess with the restaurant's online booking system by filling it with fake reservations so it couldn't take actual reservations and leaving a bunch of one-star reviews on Facebook and Yelp. Boycotters also did the same to an unaffiliated Houston-area restaurant of the same name, causing the restaurant to decide to rebrand entirely.
NRA spokesperson Dana Loesch speaks at the group's annual meeting on May 4. Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images.
Luckily, this story has a happy ending for the Dallas restaurant and people who support reasonable gun safety regulations.
Thanks in part to the added publicity directed its way by the NRA's boycott, Ellen's had an extremely busy weekend, bringing in more money than usual. In the end, $15,000 was raised for charity, to be donated to gun safety group Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America.
It's disturbing that the NRA sees the words "reasonable and effective" and immediately urges its members to "#StandAndFight," but it seems that's the world we live in.
As the convention came to an end, the restaurant updated its receipts one final time with a message we should all be able to get behind: "Love one another. Protect the vulnerable. Find common ground. Say 'yes' to peace."