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A Venti Skim Latte — And Don't Hold The Glock: Starbucks Caught In Gun-Rights Activism

In business on March 3, 2010 at 6:35 pm
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Not quite what Starbucks had in mind — gun owners exercising their right to openly carry their firearms into coffee shops.

From the AP:

The company’s statement, issued Wednesday, stems from recent campaign by some gun owners, who have walked into Starbucks and other businesses to test state laws that allow gun owners to carry weapons openly in public places. Gun control advocates have protested.

The fight began heating up in January in Northern California and has since spread to other states and other companies, bolstered by the pro-gun group OpenCarry.org.

Some of the events were spontaneous, with just one or two gun owners walking into a store. Others were organized parades of dozens of gun owners walking into restaurants with their firearms proudly at their sides.

Now, gun control advocates are protesting the policy. The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, launched a petition drive demanding that the company “offer espresso shots, not gunshots” and declare its coffeehouses “gun-free zones.” And Wednesday, that group planned to deliver 28,000 signatures to the coffee giant’s headquarters in Seattle….

Businesses can choose to ban guns from their premises. And Starbucks said Wednesday that it complies with local laws in the 43 states that have open-carry weapon laws.

“Were we to adopt a policy different from local laws allowing open carry, we would be forced to require our partners to ask law abiding customers to leave our stores, putting our partners in an unfair and potentially unsafe position,” the company said in its statement.

It said security measures are in place for any “threatening situation” that might occur in stores.

Starbucks asked both gun enthusiasts and gun-control advocates “to refrain from putting Starbucks or our partners into the middle of this divisive issue.”

From the Seattle PI site:

Few even cared about Starbucks’ gun policy — or anyone other company’s, for matter — until January, when word spread that gun-toting advocates of open-carry laws were meeting in coffeehouses and restaurants in California’s Bay Area. Seeing an opportunity to further their cause, the Brady Campaign asked two of the businesses — California Pizza Kitchen and Peet’s Coffee and Tea — to exercise their legal right to ban guns in their stores.

When they complied, the group aimed higher, asking the same of the most powerful name in coffee. Starbucks refused, citing existing safety procedures, but the Brady Campaign persisted.

This is why many people think gun-owners are nuts.

No one needs to be this provocative. No company wants to deal with a bunch of people carrying guns into a public space shared with others, some of whom loathe and fear guns and some of whom may have had terrifying, life-changing experiences of emotional or physical violence relating to the use of a firearm.

Selfish, stupid, frightening behavior.

Yeah, that’s persuasive argument.

  1. “This is why many people think gun-owners are nuts.”

    So true Caitlin and I think these nutjobs are only hurting their own cause. I totally support the right to bear arms but these open carry fanatics are merely doing so to make a statement and cause a commotion. They’re doing it to try to intimidate or to try to make themselves look tough. Many states already have concealed carry laws so why can’t these people simply carry their guns in their purses or under their jackets? Best yet, leave it in the vehicle. I have to question the intelligence and motivation of anyone that feels they have to bring a weapon with them to get a cup of coffee.

  2. Craig, thanks. This sort of behavior has nothing to do with need, which is why it offends me deeply. There are times and places a gun owner could use their firearm to help themselves or others.

    This is childish grandstanding, and I know could equally offend many gunowners for its crudeness and lack of sophistication.

  3. I’ve watched protesters do way more harm than good — activists for gay rights (a cause near & dear to my heart) who behave in outlandish manner & thereby reinforce stereotypes and entrench bigotry & opposition come to mind. Firearms around my frappuccino aren’t going to win me away from the Brady Campaign.

    • Your point is well taken. While I’ll agree that advocating the extremes of a point of view isn’t going to win many new converts; advocating reasonable behavior is a non-issue and is just as likely to be ignored.

      What we’re seeing is the extreme practice of the edge of a theory. It’s never pretty. Yet if people didn’t do it, nobody would care enough to set (or reset) those boundaries.

  4. My Mothers uncles taught me dear hunting, duck hunting, to shoot skeet and respect the guns I used. If I was to take a gun in public like an Anne Oakley want to be. The gun would have been taken away because of my the lack of maturity.

    The right to openly carry is in some was the most stupid thing a person could do. I mean if you are getting mugged. What do I say “hay wait I need time to unholster my gun and put in my clip”. Top that off with the fact that you have told the world (by way of these senseless demonstrations) that your weapon is unloaded. And that you are a pompous ass. You also invite some idiot to challenge you.

    Sometimes because you can do something doesn’t mean you should. This is one of those times. Orginations like the Brady’s have had these idiots in their collective faces. Darning them to do something, anything about it. Then they want to say their rights are being challenged. It is absurd to the extreme.

    Companies like Starbucks need to get some gumption and use their right to refuse service to people who visit the establishment. They are putting the other customers at risk and causing great distress in the community by allowing such fullishness in their stores.

    I no long use guns of any kind because I have witnessed senseless and heart wrenching things that have happened when guns where readily available. These where by people who knew how to use the weapons.

    So I say to the gun toting idiots, exercising their right to openly carry. Think of the young person who is not as well verse on carrying. Finds themselves openly carrying and gets challenged by the wrong person. All for some senselss macho statement. Stop and think, be a real role model and keep you gun at home.

  5. Vickie, thanks for this. Having the right to own a gun, I believe VERY strongly, also confers a great responsibity to handle it safely, in private and in public. I do not have a problem, per se, with that very American choiice. I have a huge problem with anyone so selfish as to utterly ignore the equally powerful needs of others to feel safe and secure.

    When researching my book about guns, I have shared physical space with people so cocky and inattentive to others there I, too, have felt concerned.

  6. What’s strange about open-carry, and the wont for it, is that it greatly contrasts with a major firearms tenet: Never let anyone know what you have.

  7. Open carry…great idea…I think La Raza Unida Party should get behind this maybe join with the Nation of Islam and hold an armed rally, say in Ohio Malcolm’s home state, call it a Million Armed Men March for Equality. Maybe the Promise of Self-Defense.

    Flood the state’s Starbucks and parks and libraries in solidarity with the NRA’s campaign to end gun laws in the country. Think of the impact it will have on all honest hard working Middle Americans!

    The NRA used to say that the problem with gun control is that we do not enforce gun laws, now they want to get rid of gun laws entirely. I don’t know but it seems all those gun shows and North Carolina and Arizona would lose lots of money if New York and Los Angeles could openly sell AKs and Glocks in the supermarkets.

    They are going to win these wingnut gun lovers and Chicago is going to be the first victim. Our supreme court lives in the eighteenth century and doesn’t believe in an evolving society.

    When it happens here in L.A. I’m going to have to arm myself as much as I hate carrying such a weapon because then every road rage incident, every argument in a bar or standing in a line becomes potentially deadly. Even Wyatt Earp required gun control, the OK incident was about disarming the cowboys.

  8. Scott, so true. It also flies in the face of the legal advice I’ve read about how to avoid challenges from flaunting your weapon without due provocation.

  9. Thanks for sharing this. I didn’t see it.

    Everyone has a strong opinion on guns, while few are well-informed. Cops, in general, have a lot better idea what happens when people are stupid or criminal with firearms.

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