Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz is asking his company's customers to please leave their guns at home according to a statement late Tuesday. Schultz stopped short of banning guns in Starbucks retail outlets however, asking that gun owners abide by his request, "through the lens of civility and respect", according to CNN on Sept. 18.
The policy change comes close on the heels of the Washington Navy Yard shooting rampage Monday, that left 13 people including the gunman dead.
However, Starbucks maintains its shift on gun carrying wasn't in direct response to that tragedy, nor the one that occurred at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., last December, where 20 first-graders and six adults were massacred.
Last month the company became embroiled in the gun control debate when a group of gun owners planned a Starbucks Appreciation Day on Facebook. The group wanted to recognize the chain's policy of allowing gun owners to bring in their weapons into their restaurants where permitted by state law.
That was followed up with a response by the Newtown Coalition For Corporate Responsibility, a group including family members of victims from last year's mass school shooting, who published an open letter calling on Schultz to ban guns in all Starbucks.
The controversy reached a head at the Newtown Starbucks in August. The store there ended up closing early to avoid a confrontation between the two opposing gun rights groups. Click here to read more.
Shultz is uncomfortable with advocates on both sides of the issue using Starbucks as a staging ground. He added the company is neither pro nor anti gun, but he does believe that guns shouldn't be part of the "Starbucks experience", according to CBS News.
Schultz said customers who bring in guns will still be served and won't be asked to leave. He hopes to give responsible gun owners the chance to respect Starbucks' request.
Starbucks stopped short of imposing a firearms ban, because they're wary of forcing employees into the position of having to enforce the ban by confronting armed customers.
The Seattle-based company is buying ad space in several major national newspapers including "The New York Times" and "Wall Street Journal" on Thursday. They plan to run an open letter from Schultz explaining the company's decision to not implement a gun ban.
Schultz made it clear that his personal views on guns did not factor into the policy change. He said the issue is not all about him nor his views on the subject, but rather it's all about the Starbucks Coffee Company.
Surely this won't be the last word on the topic. The bodies of Monday's Navy Yard victims were not even cold before gun control lobbyists began heading for Washington to call for reintroduction of gun ban bills, while gun rights advocates stepped forward to point out how current gun laws did nothing to prevent that tragedy.
What do you think of Starbucks' gun policy decision?