Starbucks changes course, asks U.S. patrons to leave guns at home

Sept 17 Wed Sep 18, 2013 1:24am EDT

Sept 17 (Reuters) - Starbucks Corp Chief Executive Howard Schultz requested on Tuesday that the coffee chain's customers leave their firearms at home, shifting company policy amid an increasingly fractious debate over U.S. gun rights in the wake of multiple mass shootings.

The request is being made in part because more people have been bringing guns into Starbucks over the last six months, prompting confusion and dismay among some patrons and employees, Schultz told Reuters in an interview.

In an open letter to customers issued late Tuesday, the chief executive said: "Our stores exist to give every customer a safe and comfortable respite from the concerns of daily life."

Starbucks' long-standing policy had been to default to local gun laws, including "open carry" regulations that allow people to bring guns into stores. It has nearly 7,000 company-operated U.S. stores.

That policy had frustrated U.S. gun-control advocates, who have persuaded many other restaurants and retailers to ban weapons in their stores and worked hard to get Starbucks to follow suit.

Schultz underscored that Starbucks' new policy is not a ban - employees will continue to serve patrons with guns. The request also does not apply to authorized law enforcement personnel.

"I don't want to put our people in a position of having to confront or enforce a policy (when) someone is holding a gun," Schultz told Reuters.

The Seattle-based company's request that customers not bring visible or concealed guns into stores and outdoor seating areas likely will anger guns-rights advocates, who in August held a national "Starbucks Appreciation Day" to thank the company for its stance at that time.

Locations for those events included the Starbucks in Newtown, Connecticut - the town where 20 children and six educators were shot to death in an elementary school in December. Starbucks closed that shop before the event was scheduled to begin.

Schultz said the 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," he said in the open letter.

Schultz said the policy change was not the result of that event, which prompted the Newtown Action Alliance to call on Schultz to ban guns at all of the company's 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," he told Reuters.

"I'm not worried we're going to lose customers over this," Schultz said, noting he and others at Starbucks considered the concerns of customers, employees and investors. "I feel like I've made the best decision in the interest of our company."

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Comments (3)
yes, because even the criminals will abide. WHAT THE HECK IS WRONG WITH THESE BUSINESSES ? Removing rights and the option for self-protection from the honest citizen is not the right answer. The criminal OBVIOUSLY will not heed the signs.

Sep 18, 2013 6:55am EDT  --  Report as abuse
So long starbucks. I used to enjoy your high-priced coffee.

Sep 18, 2013 6:57am EDT  --  Report as abuse
Yanninono wrote:
You honest citizens, so called….can go to dunkin donuts, make your own coffee, or jump off a bridge with your guns…. your right to conceal does not supercede my right to exist…

the flawed logic, on why u dont understand that most people dont want to be shot…

having a gun doesnt kill…no its you gun nuts and mentally unstable people who do.

the right to bear arms must be protected! thats nonsense…tell that to those kids in newton and their parents, or the grandfathers family in dc naval yard who was fixing a clock for gods sake…tell it to the family of the columbine victims, or the movie theater shooting…or any other hundred+ cases…

tell it to the next one and the next one and the next one… starbucks is saying no one needs to be or should be armed in their stores…that is common sense. what do u need a gun for in fracking starbucks for anyway.

(by the way I own a gun, and I keep it locked in my home, in a case, locked ammo box, and hold a LTC license)….I have never ever contemplated brining it with me, anywhere….those who do… gunnuts

The arguement that I want to protect myself is faulty…can anyone name any case that a concealed gun owner, saved the day, by stopping a shooter….I doubt you can….I also doubt you would know what to do when someone starts shooting either.

the gun violence is getting out of control…. you all should be ashamed, I am deeply sorry for the families who have lost loved ones, over a stupid “right”, that hardly even pertains to modern times.

the nra is about the status quo, and supporting gun profits, not human life or protecting it in places guns should not be allowed…like starbucks, or schools, or hospitals, or movie theaters…. shameful

Sep 19, 2013 9:04am EDT  --  Report as abuse
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