Believe it or not, Starbucks stores have found themselves in the center of a massive debate over gun control. You read that right… Starbucks — the coffee chain — is quickly becoming a big target for both sides of the debate in several states.
This statement needs context, I realize.
In most states around the country, it’s legal to carry a weapon (subject to certain licensing requirements, etc.) in public places. Individual businesses can decide to prohibit weapons in their establishments, but there’s no legal barrier to carrying weapons if the business doesn’t object. This is where the arguments involving Starbucks come into play.
Carrying firearms and quotations from the Bill of Rights, protesters in Northern California started gathering in stores from Peet’s Coffee & Tea and California Pizza Kitchen. Those chains changed their corporate policies to prohibit weapons on their premises, leading protesters to start gathering at Starbucks instead.
Starbucks has politely refused to meet the Brady Campaign’s request. “Were we to adopt a policy different from local laws allowing open carry, we would be forced to require our partners to ask law abiding customers to leave our stores, putting our partners in an unfair and potentially unsafe position,” said the company.
OpenCarry.org, an Internet community that supports gun owners’ rights, issued a statement that it was “impressed” with Starbucks’ decision and that its 28,000 members will regularly buy Starbucks products to show their support. The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, on the other hand, has started a petition to encourage Starbucks to serve “espresso shots, not gunshots.”
As for Starbucks, they’d just as soon stay out of the fray altogether. From a statement on the company’s website:
The political, policy and legal debates around these issues belong in the legislatures and courts, not in our stores. … Advocacy groups from both sides of this issue have chosen to use Starbucks as a way to draw attention to their positions. … As the public debate continues, we are asking all interested parties to refrain from putting Starbucks or our partners in the middle of this divisive issue.
So, what do you think? Should Starbucks, and other places of business that are open to the public, permit customers to carry weapons in the business if the laws of that state don’t prohibit doing so? Reply below!