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

Cosby to be deposed in sexual abuse lawsuit


Bill Cosby was expected to testify under oath in a lawsuit brought by a woman accusing the veteran comedian of sexual abuse.

in Entertainment

OPENING WEEKEND: Biopic ‘Steve Jobs’ competes against ‘Pan,’ ‘The Walk’


Here's a look at the movies set to open nationwide this weekend.

in Viral Videos

WATCH: Soldier breaks rank to hug daughter at homecoming


Top brass at a Colorado Army post are all smiles after a 2-year-old girl interrupted a general's speech to dash across the room and hug her dad, who had just come home from a nine-month deployment.

in Music

Dwight Yoakam producing music-centered comedy series


"Belles and Whistles" will follow the fortunes of an ambitious dad who moves his dysfunctional family to Nashville to pursue his lifelong dream of becoming a country singer.

in Entertainment

‘Ant-Man’ sequel and three more Marvel movies are coming


The superhero universe will add three more as of yet unnamed movies by 2020.