While not actually changing his company’s policy from one of respecting state laws on the carrying of guns, Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz has asked customers not to, Poppy Harlow and James O'Toole of CNNMoney reported this morning.
“Schultz told CNN that the company is not instituting a ban, and is simply making a request ‘through the lens of civility and respect,’" the report explains.
That’s hardly surprising. The company wants to sell coffee to everyone and not be at the center of a debate that will draw angry reactions and threats of boycotts over issues that divide its customer base. That it has taken a laissez faire attitude on guns so far, and not changed policy under pressure, shows an understanding of business realities. Nevertheless, balancing on a tightrope means the primary goal is not to fall, and the statement by Schultz shows an executive trying hard not to. He knows if he lurches too far to either side, upset opponents will try to pull out his net and make him fall.
“The company was roped into the gun debate last month when a group of gun owners announced plans online for a ‘Starbucks Appreciation Day,'” Harlow and O’Toole inform their readers. While that event may have been the last big tug on his rope to prompt the teetering CEO to cry out, the impression that this whole controversy was recently started by gun rights activists is simply wrong. What should be troubling is that CNN's “Authorized Journalists / real reporters / legitimate media” have premiere access to information and investigative reporting resources to where they ought to know better -- that is, assuming they actually don’t.
In either case, the Starbucks gun squabble was noted by any number of #justabloggers reporting without the salaries, benefits and organizational resources available to agents of "The Worldwide Leader in News" over 3 ½ years ago, as a Gun Rights Examiner column from February of 2010 documents. As for roping Starbucks in, the real activity that brought this to national attention was initiated by the Brady Campaign, which loudly pushed a petition demanding “The practice of packing heat in places like Starbucks … must be stopped.” That project has since been scrubbed from the Brady website, but a copy remains on the “Wayback Machine” Internet Archive to show exactly who did the roping.
Add to this the fact that the letter from Schultz, which CNN centered its story around and provided a link to, makes it clear that the controversy did not begin “last month.”
“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,” Schultz wrote. That would have been a good and obvious clue for CNN’s crack investigative team to pick up on.
Gun rights activists would do well now to stop using Starbucks stores as battlegrounds, because, even in light of the company’s statement, a victory has been won and held -- they can still carry if they choose. There’s no percentage in pressing further to demand more from someone unwilling to give it, which could backfire and result in lost ground. Continue carrying there but stop trying to force corporate to formally agree and everybody wins. Besides, the essential core of true tolerance, which Schultz has actually shown here, is to not infringe on the free choices of others.
Live and let live should be enough. Demanding those free choices be accepted and embraced by all -- you’ll eat it and you’ll like it -- is the hallmark of the totalitarian, and is something best left to seething prohibitionist “progressives.”
What the Obama administration can’t get through legislation they’re determined to get just by issuing orders. The latest GUNS Magazine "Rights Watch" column is online, and you can read it before the magazine hits the stands. Click here to read "Executive Actions.”
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