Starbucks CEO Politely Requests Customers Keep Their Guns Out Of Coffee Shops

On Tuesday night, Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz penned an open letter to customers, asking them to resist bringing firearms into Starbucks stores regardless of state laws. The letter comes on the heels Monday's tragic shooting at the Washington Navy Yard. While pro-gun groups may decry this position as cowardly and political, Schultz's position is entirely reasonable, and his exercising this sort of power is certainly nothing new.

As Schultz indicates in his letter, Starbucks has previously been involved in this particular debate. It had been Starbucks's policy to respect state law. This has led to the creation of Facebook groups and meetups at Starbucks that celebrate Starbucks by fervently pro-gun supporters. As Schultz notes in his letter: "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."

Schultz's repudiation is very clear. And do you blame him? Does anyone, let alone a place of business, want people openly carrying weapons, or in certain cases celebrating gun culture, through "Starbucks Appreciation Day events"? People go into Starbucks to grab coffee, get work done, or simply relax and chat it up with friends. No one wants to be subjected to a quasi-NRA rally with large numerous guns in plain vision. Just hearing the word "gun" makes people extremely nervous, and seeing one doesn't help that condition of anxiety, regardless of how "responsible" that person may claim to be. This is an issue of feeling safe at Starbucks, which is why Schultz's plea makes all the more sense.

Exercising this power is not foreign at all. For instance, restaurant owners make this sort of decision when they create "no smoking" venues. Implicit within these decisions is the calculation made by owners that the actions taken by several negatively affect the larger customer base. Just like store owners making the calculation that second-hand smoke is disruptive to business and clientele, Schultz and his team have clearly made a similar calculation as it relates to the open carry of weapons.

If open carriers are creating levels of insecurity among grad school students trying to do homework or mothers with young children swinging, then it is entirely reasonable for Schultz and Starbucks to say enough is enough. 

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David Tigabu

David is a graduate student at American University studying Political Science with a focus in American Politics. David is currently based in Washington D.C., and loves exploring the city, meeting new people, and discussing issues of social justice and UNC hoops. He can be reached at david.tigabu@gmail.com

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