Starbucks Coffee Company CEO Howard Schultz issued a statement last week that respectfully requested its customers to “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.” A survey of comments on the company’s website and Facebook page shows that gun owners are mostly unhappy about the request and will stop frequenting the stores, but a few are willing to cut Starbucks some slack and stay with the store. The statement, posted on the Starbucks website, recognized that Starbucks stores have been caught between gun-rights groups—especially open-carry advocates—and anti-gun bigots, saying, “Few topics in America generate a more polarized and emotional debate than guns. In recent months, Starbucks stores and our partners (employees) who work in our stores have been thrust unwillingly into the middle of this debate. That’s why I am writing today with a respectful request that customers no longer bring firearms into our stores or outdoor seating areas.” The Schultz statement continued, “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 Wall Street Journal reported that the shift in Starbucks’ gun policy came last month when armed gun-rights supporters assembled at a Starbucks in Newtown, Conn., the town in which a gunman massacred 20 schoolchildren and six others months earlier. Gun owners said they wanted to show their appreciation for Starbucks and support for armed residents of Newtown whom they felt had been unfairly stigmatized by the coverage of the shooting.
When word of the gathering leaked out, it grew in size and tension. Outside the brick store, pistol-carrying residents clashed with gun-control advocates who decried the “appreciation day” as an affront to the grief-stricken town. To defuse things, Starbucks shut down the store for the day.
About one in seven commenters in the Starbucks website comment section (900 comments) said the policy would make them stop going to the store: “flying_tigress9” wrote: “I plan to give Starbucks a wide berth as they will now be frequented only by liberal fools… safer now there? LOL… they just became a more dangerous place to be, just like Fort Hood and the Navy Yard. What a dumbbell their ‘leader’ is.” “ELCIDGRAD” wrote in the Starbucks website comments, “I love how you didn’t mind us bringing our M9’s into the Starbucks at Camp Buehring. (Seriously, thanks for the coffee though.) It’s ok over there, but not stateside? Apparently, there are too many nervous Nellies here that are scared of a piece of steel that once protected their right to be ignorant and fearful.” On the Starbucks Facebook page, more than 13,700 people commented, many along the lines of this from Jessica Silveri: “And I respectfully decline his request. I have a child who is often with me and I have a right to protect him and myself. More women should carry some type of weapon because the world has become cruel. You never know when you may need to protect yourself so, ladies, always be prepared.” Natalie Gray: “I am an AVID Starbucks drinker. This will probably change now. What a shame that a coffee-house thinks it can infringe on my Second Amendment right.” Richard Ney: “Attention criminals, no one in Starbucks will have the ability to defend themselves during an armed robbery. I am positive I won’t be there. Gold card has been disposed of and new local coffee shop already selected. I refuse to support any business that eliminates the choice I have as a United States citizen and military veteran.” However, our own Cheaper Than Dirt! Forum participant “horselips” took a different view: “I don’t blame Starbucks one bit. Have you seen the photos of these open-carry azzholes hanging out in the coffee shop with AR15s, AK-47s and riot shotguns? These jerks tried to turn a restaurant into a gun show for tone-deaf Bubbas playing Rambo. I know it’s all ‘legal’ but I’d have thrown their butts out of any of my restaurants too. Open carry is fine in the field, but almost never appropriate in an urban/commercial environment, especially with tacticool long arms. Thanks a lot open-carry morons… for ruining it for everybody. We don’t need attention-whores turning more corporations against us.” What’s your take? Will you continue concealed-carrying your Glock IWB while you sip a soy-milk latte with extra foam? Did Schultz inadvertently split the baby and alienate millions of gun owners? Have you had your last Starbucks brew?