Starbucks has become a battleground for the gun control issue, with gun rights advocates praising the company for adhering to open carry laws that let patrons walk into their cafes with a gun and gun control advocates pressing the company to stop. In response, Starbucks CEO Howard Shultz sent an open letter asking customers not to bring the weapons into the store. However, the letter doesn’t ban them all together.
Schultz says the company has been “thrust unwillingly” into the debate, when it has only opted to follow the law where open carry is permitted and where it is not. “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,” the letter says.
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.
As a result, they don’t want firearms even in locations where open carry is permitted. Schultz says it’s a request rather than a ban in order to give “responsible gun owners” the chance to honor the request. Still, there are readers going into the comments section of the Starbucks site vowing not to go to Starbucks anymore because of the new stance.
The letter was posted in the wake of the Washington Navy Yard shooting. The string of mass shooting around the country has Americans looking for solutions to the problem of gun violence. And as Schultz notes, he’s concerned about confrontations from both sides and with Starbucks workers who are just there to do their job.
According to The New York Times, many of the company-owned Starbucks cafes (there are 11,000 of them in the US) are in states that have open carry laws. Forty-four states have open-carry laws. New York, California, South Carolina, Illinois, Florida and Texas do not.
What do you think?