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September 18, 2013

Starbucks Reverses Policy, Asks Customers To No Longer Open Carry In Stores

Last night, Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz announced a policy reversal regarding open carry in Starbucks coffee shops. The announcement was made on the company's website last night. Some are quick to blame Starbucks and liberal whining and complaining, but I don't really see it that way. From his post:

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.

Starbucks, of course, is not a conservative organization. They champion plenty of liberal/progressive causes from the corporate level. They were however, quite accommodating to the issue of gun rights on the local storefront level. Essentially, they were just mirroring whatever state law was on the books.

Liberals, as they often do, staged boycotts and protests. This isn't the first boycott of Starbucks by the left, by the way. Newtown kicked this thing into overdrive.

Gun rights activists started "Starbucks Appreciation Day", which encouraged people to open carry in stores where the law allowed. Frankly, I think this is where it started to go off the rails. Gun rights is an issue we're winning pretty comfortably. The left seeks to paint gun rights supporters as "gun nuts" and nothing helps their case more than pulling stunts like this.

Now tell me, what was the point of that? Any CCW class, or NRA gun safety program you take will relentlessly preach the importance of responsibility. There are few things more irresponsible as a gun owner than bringing a rifle to a business with the express purpose of creating an argument or altercation, all for the glory of your YouTube channel.

Apparently, Starbucks didn't want to continue to have their stores be ground zero for a political debate. You know what? They are completely within their rights to make this call as a private business. Starbucks CEO:

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.

Notice, this is not a ban. It's a polite request they are asking customers to honor (It's a little unclear as to whether this applies to just open carry or concealed as well). Some are claiming he just buckled to liberal pressure and he's lying through his teeth. I'm willing to take him at his word, because I assume the company just wanted to sell coffee without the endless headaches that go along with people making a spectacle of the previous policy.

Please understand, I am a strong supporter of both open and concealed carry. The issue I have here is one of strategy. I do not think this type organized campaign wins us any converts in the middle, because it seems very much like intimidation to "moderates" on the issue. I think even people who are inclined to support expanding gun rights would be turned off by the sight of a bunch of people walking around with rifles in Starbucks.

It's a shame they decided to change the policy. Had gun rights activists sent emails or letters thanking the company for their policy and simply continued their patronage (while carrying when they otherwise would), I don't think it would have come to this.

Oh, I'll be on NRA News at 3PM discussing this.

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posted by JohnE. at 02:10 PM

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