News

Starbucks: guns don’t go with coffee

Starbucks: guns don’t go with coffee

Photo: Reuters

By Lisa Baertlein

(Reuters) – Coffee chain Starbucks Corp has asked U.S. customers to leave their guns at home after being dragged into an increasingly fractious debate over U.S. gun rights in the wake of multiple mass shootings.

While many U.S. restaurant chains and retailers do not allow firearms on their properties, Starbucks’ policy had been to default to local gun laws, including “open carry” regulations in many U.S. states that allow people to bring guns into stores.

In August, this led gun-rights advocates to hold a national “Starbucks Appreciation Day” to thank the firm for its stance, pulling the company deeper into the fierce political fight.

Locations for Starbucks Appreciation Day events included Newtown, Connecticut, where 20 children and six adults were shot dead in an elementary school in December. Starbucks closed that shop before the event was scheduled to begin.

Chief Executive Howard Schultz said in an open letter to customers late Tuesday that Starbucks Appreciation Day events “disingenuously portray Starbucks as a champion of ‘open carry.’ To be clear: we do not want these events in our stores.”

The coffee chain did not, however, issue an outright ban on guns in its nearly 7,000 company-owned cafes, saying this would potentially require staff to confront armed customers.

The Seattle-based company hoped to give “responsible gun owners a chance to respect its request,” Schultz said.

The CEO told Reuters the policy change was not the result of the Newtown Starbucks Appreciation Day event, which prompted the Newtown Action Alliance to call on the company to ban guns at all of its U.S. stores. Nor was it in response to the mass shootings this week at the Washington Navy Yard.

“We’ve seen the ‘open carry’ debate become increasingly uncivil and, in some cases, even threatening,” Schultz wrote, noting that “some anti-gun activists have also played a role in ratcheting up the rhetoric and friction,” at times soliciting and confronting employees and patrons.

“We found ourselves in a position where advocates on both sides of the issue were using Starbucks as a staging ground for their own political position,” said Schultz, who in the past has willingly waded into the public debate over the U.S. national debt and gay marriage.

Schultz said more people had been bringing guns into Starbucks shops over the last six months, prompting confusion and dismay among some customers and employees.

“I’m not worried we’re going to lose customers over this,” he told Reuters. “I feel like I’ve made the best decision in the interest of our company.”

Starbucks’ request does not apply to authorized law enforcement personnel.

Recent Headlines

in Entertainment

Today in entertainment history: Sept. 18

Fresh
In this undated photo, Jimi Hendrix performs with a Fender Stratocaster electric guitar. The Stratocaster, used by countless professional and amateur musicians, celebrates its 60th anniversary in 2014.

A look back on some of Hollywood's most memorable moments.

in Sports

Cardinals RB Dwyer arrested on assault charges

NFL logo on the field before an NFL football game between the Detroit Lions and the New England Patriots in Detroit, Thursday, Aug. 22, 2013.

Phoenix police announced the arrest Wednesday, the latest in the string of cases involving off-the-field violence by NFL players. The Cardinals said they became aware of the situation on Wednesday and are cooperating with the investigation. He has been deactivated from all team activities.

in Sports

Vikings bar Peterson from team activities

Minnesota Vikings executive vice president & general manager Rick Spielman, left, owner/chairman Mark Wilf, center, and executive vice president legal affairs Kevin Warren, right, take part in a news conference in Eden Prairie, Minn., Wednesday, Sept. 17, 2014. Hours after reversing course and benching Adrian Peterson indefinitely, owner Zygi Wilf said that the team "made a mistake" in bringing back their superstar running back following his indictment on a felony child-abuse charge in Texas.

Vikings owner Zygi Wilf says the team "made a mistake" in bringing back Adrian Peterson following his felony child-abuse charge

in Sports

Bayern beats Man City in Champions League

Bayern's Jerome Boateng, left, celebrates after he scored his side first goal during the Champions League Group E soccer match between FC Bayern Munich and Manchester City at Allianz Arena in Munich, southern Germany, Wednesday Sept. 17, 2014. Right are Bayern's Juan Bernat.

Jerome Boateng scored in the 90th minute to give Bayern Munich a victory over Manchester City in the Champions League on Wednesday.

in Sports

Panthers remove DE Greg Hardy from active roster

Carolina Panthers defensive end Greg Hardy (76) runs on the the field during player introductions before the start of an NFL football game in Charlotte, NC, Sunday, Dec. 15, 2013.

The Panthers have removed Greg Hardy from the team's active roster until his domestic violence case is resolved.

Bellingham Traffic