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You and your gun are no longer welcome at Starbucks

Starbucks no longer respects your basic human right to self defense
Starbucks no longer respects your basic human right to self defense
AP Photo/Seth Perlman

Starbucks has mainly ignored the issue of guns in its stores, taking no position on the issue in spite of intense pressure from anti-liberty activists who have signed petitions and threatened boycotts. Prior to yesterday, its only official position on the issue was that it followed all local laws. In appreciation for Starbucks' refusal to bow to the Brady Campaign, civil rights advocates have held Starbucks Appreciation Days, when they spend money in a local Starbucks while carrying firearms openly. Ironically, these Starbucks Appreciation Days have backfired, resulting in a new policy that is unwelcoming of firearms.

Citing "civility and respect," CEO Howard Schultz has asked customers not to bring weapons into its stores, citing confrontations and soliciting at the Starbucks Appreciation Days as his reason. Starbucks customers with firearms will not be asked to leave and will not be refused service. CEO Schultz stressed that his employees have been "thrust unwillingly into the middle of this debate."

The message is clear, however. You and your guns (and by extension, your money) are no longer welcome. The meat of the letter is quoted in the following three paragraphs:

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.

The middle paragraph, clarifying that only police officers are welcome with firearms, was emphasized by underlining in the letter.

To be fair, it appears that at least some advocates of carrying openly share the blame for this new policy by their unwelcome conduct of "soliciting and confronting" customers and employees, instead of quietly buying a coffee. Nevertheless, I have spent my last dollar at Starbucks, as I do not willingly hand over money to persons who refuse to respect fundamental civil rights.

I have already let CEO Schultz know what I think of his new announcement through the Starbucks corporate web page.

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