Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should….. OC causes chain to ask customers to leave guns behind

Over the past few years Starbucks has become sort of the retail symbol of Second Amendment rights. The first “Starbucks Appreciation Day” was formed in response to a planned boycott by anti-gun groups because the American coffee chain allowed, were legal, open carry of firearms in their stores. Tens of thousands of faithful gun owners marched into local shops with a handful of two-dollar bills and their sidearms and the “I love guns and coffee” movement was born. But the movement was supposed to show our support to a business that allowed us to exercise our rights, not shove a company into the spotlight with negative press.

The first year of the “Starbucks Appreciation Day” the employees didn’t even realize what was going on. I asked if they knew about the event, and they said that they wondered why everyone was paying with $2 bills but never noticed the guns.

Even with much protest from the gun-haters, Starbucks took a stance I considered neutral, their policy reflected local and state law. I can’t imagine how much increase in business the “I love guns and coffee” movement has translated into for the company, but no profits can compensate for piss-poor behavior and plain stupidity shown by some in a certain faction of the gun-rights movement.

Our company’s longstanding approach to “open carry” has been to follow local laws: we permit it in states where allowed and we prohibit it in states where these laws don’t exist. We have chosen this approach because we believe our store partners should not be put in the uncomfortable position of requiring customers to disarm or leave our stores. We believe that gun policy should be addressed by government and law enforcement—not by Starbucks and our store partners.

Recently, however, we’ve seen the “open carry” debate become increasingly uncivil and, in some cases, even threatening.

This is from an open letter addressed to Fellow Americans, by Howard Shultz, Starbucks chairman, president and chief executive officer. Obviously, while the great many of us went into our local shops with our “I love guns” patches on our hats and our two-dollar bills, and discreetly  showed our thanks to a business, some decided that it would be a great idea to walk into a coffee shop filled with soccer moms and college students obnoxiously open carrying not only sidearms, but long guns as well. Again JUST BECAUSE YOU CAN, DOESN’T MEAN YOU SHOULD.

Friends that know me ( and some people have decided not to be my friend because of my stance) know that I’m not a big fan of OC. I’m not going to get into tactics or even politics of my reasons. I’ve tried to be supportive because I believe that as gun-owners, we need to stand together to keep our right. But more and more, I see actions by open carry activists that are not only rude and unnecessary, but downright damaging to our cause of protecting the Second Amendment. You are not doing us (Americans who value our rights) any favors or promoting our cause by getting into confrontations with law enforcement officers just so you can play internet attorney on YouTube.  You are not educating the public, or making people feel more at ease around guns (love when I hear that line) while you are walking through Walmart with your SKS hanging over your back. You are creating fear. You are causing more citizens to support more gun laws. And you WILL be the cause of more restrictions of our rights.

To Starbucks, I offer my sincere apologies for the actions of a few who are putting you in this situation. I will continue to patronize our local stores and, as always, no one will know whether I am armed or not. I ask my fellow gun-owners to do the same. Don’t stop patronizing Starbucks because they were forced to make this decision.

Posted by Howard Schultz, Starbucks chairman, president and chief executive officer

Dear Fellow Americans,

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.

From the beginning, our vision at Starbucks has been to create a “third place” between home and work where people can come together to enjoy the peace and pleasure of coffee and community. Our values have always centered on building community rather than dividing people, and our stores exist to give every customer a safe and comfortable respite from the concerns of daily life.

We appreciate that there is a highly sensitive balance of rights and responsibilities surrounding America’s gun laws, and we recognize the deep passion for and against the “open carry” laws adopted by many states. (In the United States, “open carry” is the term used for openly carrying a firearm in public.) 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.

Our company’s longstanding approach to “open carry” has been to follow local laws: we permit it in states where allowed and we prohibit it in states where these laws don’t exist. We have chosen this approach because we believe our store partners should not be put in the uncomfortable position of requiring customers to disarm or leave our stores. We believe that gun policy should be addressed by government and law enforcement—not by Starbucks and our store partners.

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.

I am proud of our country and our heritage of civil discourse and debate. It is in this spirit that we make today’s request. Whatever your view, I encourage you to be responsible and respectful of each other as citizens and neighbors.

Sincerely,

Howard Schultz

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