Howard Schultz, CEO of Starbucks, will clearly not be bullied by irrational gun owners or pressure from groups like the NRA. If you’ll recall a couple of weeks ago there was a big kerfuffle over the coffee giants’ policy about carrying firearms in their stores. Right-wingers were at first ecstatic about Schultz’ corporate policy that Starbucks would acquiesce to the local authority when it comes to both openly and concealed-carrying a firearm in their store.
The controversy was further ignited when right-wing pro-gun groups tried to stage one of their “We love” days for Starbucks. Just like they did in support of Chick-Fil-A’s corporate leadership’s homophobic behavior, gun owners held “Starbucks Appreciation” day as they all brought their families and their guns down to their local Starbucks in solidarity with one another. However, the Starbucks in Newtown, CT, site of the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary, chose to close down early after there arose quite a clamor of righteous indignation over the fact that pro-gun groups would also choose a location in that town to hold their gun worshiping services. The gun lovers were not pleased and vowed to boycott Starbucks.
Schultz is apparently ready to put all the drama to rest. In an amazingly frank and heartfelt open letter to all of his customers, Schultz unveiled Starbucks’ new policy when it comes to guns in their stores — Please don’t. In a move that will surely anger the gun lovers that were already upset with Schultz’ company, the letter he wrote specifically says this is not a ban, but a very direct request that gun owners do not bring their weapons into the store. In one of the most telling passages, Schultz explains why he has to make this move a firm but polite suggestion and not an outright ban, “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.”
Read the full content of Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz’ amazing open letter below:
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.