The mass shooting at the Navy Yard in Washington, D.C., is renewing the debate over gun control.
The CEO of Starbucks is weighing in. He's now asking customers to stop bringing firearms into his company's stores.
As Starbucks sees it, coffee goes good with cream and sugar, guns not so much. So, one of the country’s largest coffee chains is asking customers to please leave your guns at home.
It’s not an unreasonable request in the eyes of James Randall, a gun owner visiting San Jose from Texas.
“The collateral damage is the thing you worry about,” Randall said. “So, some guy shoots his gun somewhere, he’s likely to hit more friendlies than the people that are actually the perpetrators of crime.”
But will other gun owners comply?
In a letter that will appear in newspapers nationwide Thursday, Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz will be asking customers to stop bringing guns into his coffee shops because it is uncomfortable for customers.
He’s referring to recent demonstrations in which gun owners have shown up to buy a cup of Joe with a licensed gun in holster to show their support of so called open-carry laws, which is the law of the land in many states.
Starbucks has tolerated this but now believes the debate over gun control in this country has become uncivil and in some cases threatening.
“In light of the events of this week, it’s ridiculous that people are allowed to carry handguns around in public,” Starbucks customer Jeff Belton said.
Starbucks points out this is not a ban, just a request, and that employees will not be asking anyone with a gun to leave the property, in part, so they do not end up in a confrontation an armed patron.
"I believe in the Constitution," customer Jeremy Leroux said. "This is America. We're the best... It might just be more of a business decision to try and appease the masses."
The coffee giant was dragged into the gun control debate by activists in support of stricter gun controls. They started pressuring Starbucks awhile back to ban guns in their stores. The company wouldn’t and instead deferred to local laws. Gun rights advocates used that as an opportunity to demonstrate their 2nd Amendment rights at stores in the Bay Area and throughout the country.
Dear Fellow Americans,
Few topics in America generate a more polarized and emotional debate than guns. In recent months, Starbucks stores and our partners (employees) who work in our stores have been thrust unwillingly into the middle of this debate. That’s why I am writing today with a respectful request that customers no longer bring firearms into our stores or outdoor seating areas.
From the beginning, our vision at Starbucks has been to create a “third place” between home and work where people can come together to enjoy the peace and pleasure of coffee and community. Our values have always centered on building community rather than dividing people, and our stores exist to give every customer a safe and comfortable respite from the concerns of daily life.
We appreciate that there is a highly sensitive balance of rights and responsibilities surrounding America’s gun laws, and we recognize the deep passion for and against the “open carry” laws adopted by many states. (In the United States, “open carry” is the term used for openly carrying a firearm in public.) For years we have listened carefully to input from our customers, partners, community leaders and voices on both sides of this complicated, highly charged issue.
Our company’s longstanding approach to “open carry” has been to follow local laws: we permit it in states where allowed and we prohibit it in states where these laws don’t exist. We have chosen this approach because we believe our store partners should not be put in the uncomfortable position of requiring customers to disarm or leave our stores. We believe that gun policy should be addressed by government and law enforcement—not by Starbucks and our store partners.
Recently, however, we’ve seen the “open carry” debate become increasingly uncivil and, in some cases, even threatening. Pro-gun activists have used our stores as a political stage for media events misleadingly called “Starbucks Appreciation Days” that disingenuously portray Starbucks as a champion of “open carry.” To be clear: we do not want these events in our stores. Some anti-gun activists have also played a role in ratcheting up the rhetoric and friction, including soliciting and confronting our customers and partners.
For these reasons, today we are respectfully requesting that customers no longer bring firearms into our stores or outdoor seating areas—even in states where “open carry” is permitted—unless they are authorized law enforcement personnel.
I would like to clarify two points. First, this is a request and not an outright ban. Why? Because we want to give responsible gun owners the chance to respect our request—and also because enforcing a ban would potentially require our partners to confront armed customers, and that is not a role I am comfortable asking Starbucks partners to take on. Second, we know we cannot satisfy everyone. For those who oppose “open carry,” we believe the legislative and policy-making process is the proper arena for this debate, not our stores. For those who champion “open carry,” please respect that Starbucks stores are places where everyone should feel relaxed and comfortable. The presence of a weapon in our stores is unsettling and upsetting for many of our customers.
I am proud of our country and our heritage of civil discourse and debate. It is in this spirit that we make today’s request. Whatever your view, I encourage you to be responsible and respectful of each other as citizens and neighbors.