Freedom of Association – Respecting the Right to Refuse Service | Libertarian Party of San Francisco

Freedom of Association – Respecting the Right to Refuse Service

By Derek Varsalona

America is obsessed with guns – whether owning, carrying and using them, or trying to prevent others from doing so.  Loving them and hating them is part of the national culture, as common (and loathed by some) as sex or cigarettes.  And self defense is a natural human right, which translates into the civil right to keep and bear arms.  Just do not tell that to one local baker. 

Reem’s California, an Arab bakery and street food establishment with several outlets in California including one at 2910 Mission Street in San Francisco, is refusing to serve customers who have guns on them.

Yes, the right to keep and bear arms is legally enshrined in the Second Amendment.  But this is a private business. They can set a policy of not allowing guns in their store, just as a business can require that customers wear shoes, belong to a particular sex or gender, or be vaccinated.  If you want to come and eat at Reem's, or just buy their wares, don't come armed.

To her credit, Reem’s proprietor, Palestinian-Syrian chef Reem Assil, doesn’t have a double standard when it comes to civilian guns versus government guns.  Police officers carrying firearms aren’t welcome in her establishment either.  Again this is totally her decision to make, and she’s aware there could be consequences for not serving the men and women in blue in terms of loss of business.

Libertarians may not appreciate a business choosing to interfere with self defense rights, or with other rights such as the right to free speech, to be nude, to use drugs, etc. But libertarian principles are clear that if an entity isn’t receiving public funds, they shouldn’t have to serve anyone they don’t want to serve.

According to proprietor Reem Assil, her business doesn’t get a penny in taxpayer subsidies. “While I would appreciate government assistance, I would rather see policies that will lift all of us up,” she told KQED in 2020. "Sometimes, I feel like the advocacy [among restaurateurs] is more narrow-minded on a national level about what it would take to save restaurants.”

The baker says she decided to take a stand on guns due to the fact that both she and her customers are afraid of what they see as growing political extremism in society. That’s a feeling with which many Libertarians, in some ways caught in the middle between increasingly polarized Democrat and Republican partisans, can relate.