| Sept 17
Sept 17 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
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
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
"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
"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."