Starbucks Gun Free Zone: Conservatives Respect Howard Schultz's Decision

Last summer when Chick-fil-A's Chief Operating Officer Dan Cathy remarked to a talk radio show that he was against gay marriage, a firestorm of negative publicity and liberal outrage descended upon the company. Conservatives defended Cathy's remarks and the company's anti-gay marriage policy, citing freedom of speech. After Starbucks announced yesterday that it was politely asking its customers to refrain from bringing firearms into their stores, conservatives found themselves on the opposite end of a company's politics. But like a year earlier, though, they supported company rights and Starbucks's freedom of speech.

In a letter to its customers Tuesday afternoon, Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz announced a new company policy asking gun owners to leave their guns at home. However, Schultz said that Starbucks employees would not confront any patrons who bring a firearm into the store and no signs would be posted announcing the change.

This letter comes just a day after the mass shooting at the Navy Fort in Washington D.C., which took 13 lives and brought gun control back onto the national stage.

Across the country, gun owners reacted negatively to the announcement on Facebook and Twitter, declaring their intentions to continue carrying their guns into Starbucks. While many conservatives quickly decided they were going to ignore the new policy, few pundits or activists believed the coffee company was outside its rights to do so.

Sonny Bunch, managing editor of the Washington Free Beacon, argued that Schultz was simply reacting out of a fear of liberal criticism, but even he wouldn't go so far as to say that Starbucks shouldn't have the right to make such a decision. A search of conservative sites found no one was arguing that the change was illegal. Some even went further than that, supporting Starbucks' right to make such a decision.

Gun advocate Charles Cooke, a writer for the National Review, tweeted, "Starbucks is a private company and it can do as it pleases. If I had my way it could refuse service to anyone, anytime, for whatever reason."

This is in contrast to the outrage that Chick-fil-A faced last year, when liberals such as Boston Mayor Thomas Menino attempted to ban Chick-fil-A from the city. Menino cited the company's anti-gay marriage stance as the main reason for keeping them out, but ultimately admitted he did not have the right to do so.

Conservatives were enraged by Menino's infringement on a company's freedom of speech. After the muted reaction to Starbucks anti-gun decision, it's clear that conservative support for Chick-fil-A was not based on politics, but on the fundamental right of company freedom. There's no hypocrisy here.

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Danny Vinik

I'm a recent graduate of Duke University majoring in economics and public policy. I write frequently at my own site, called Political Algebra (www.dannyvinik.com). My main interests are economic policy and political analysis. Outside of journalism, I'm a big sports fan, particularly of Duke Basketball and the Boston Red Sox.

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