File photo of a Starbucks cafe (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
Hide Caption

Starbucks says guns unwelcome, though not banned

a a a a
Share this story

CINCINNATI - NEW YORK - Starbucks says guns are no longer welcome in its cafes, though it is stopping short of an outright ban on firearms.

The fine line that the retailer is walking to address the concerns of both gun rights and gun control advocates reflects how heated the issue has become, particularly in light of recent mass shootings.

Most states allow people to openly carry licensed guns in some way and many companies do not have laws banning firearms in their stores. But Starbucks has become a target for gun control advocates, in part because of its liberal-leaning corporate image. In turn, gun rights advocates have been galvanized by the company's decision to defer to local laws.

In an interview, CEO Howard Schultz said the decision to ask customers to stop bringing guns into stores came as a result of the growing frequency of "Starbucks Appreciation Days," in which gun rights advocates turned up at Starbucks cafes with firearms.

Schultz said the events mischaracterized the company's stance on the issue and the demonstrations "have made our customers uncomfortable."

Schultz hopes people will honor the request not to bring in guns but says the company will nevertheless serve those who do.

"We will not ask you to leave," he said.

The Seattle-based company plans to buy ad space in major national newspapers including The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post and USA Today on Thursday to run an open letter from Schultz explaining the decision. The letter points to recent activities by both gun rights and gun control advocates at its stores, saying that it has been "thrust unwillingly" into the middle of the national debate over firearms.

As for the "Starbucks Appreciation Days" being staged by gun rights advocates, it stresses: "To be clear: we do not want these events in our stores."

But the letter notes that Starbucks is standing by its position that the matter should ultimately be left to lawmakers. Schultz also said he doesn't want to put workers in the position of having to confront armed customers by banning guns.

The AP was provided a picture of a memo to Starbucks employees on Tuesday. Partners are instructed not to confront customers or ask them to leave solely for carrying a weapon.

Several companies do not allow firearms in their stores, however, apparently with little trouble. Representatives for Peet's Coffee & Tea and Whole Foods, for example, said there haven't been any problems with enforcing their gun bans.

Shannon Watts, founder of the gun reform group Moms Demand Action, noted that Starbucks has taken strong stances on other issues. Earlier this year, for example, the company banned smoking within 25 feet of its stores, wherever its leases allowed. The idea was to extend its no-smoking policy to the outdoor seating areas.

"There's a big difference in the connotation of someone holding a gun and someone holding a cigarette," Schultz said.

Moms Demand Action, which was formed the day after the Newtown, Conn., school shooting, has been organizing "Skip Starbucks Saturdays" to urge the coffee company to ban guns at its stores. Participants take photos of themselves at competitors such as Peet's that do not allow guns and post them online.

In the meantime, Starbucks has become a symbol for advocates of gun rights. A website now even sells products bearing an altered version of the Starbucks logo, with the siren holding up a gun in each hand with the words "I Love Guns & Coffee."
 

Copyright 2013 Scripps Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Print this article

Comments

Hmm... It looks like you’re not a WCPO Insider. or Subscribe now to contribute!

More National News
Boston police find hoax device in backpacks
Boston police find hoax device in backpacks

A man was taken into custody Tuesday night and charged with possession of a hoax device after two unattended backpacks were found at the…

Americans to spend $2.26 billion on Easter candy
Americans to spend $2.26 billion on Easter candy

From chocolate bunnies to yellow marshmallow Peeps, sugary Easter confectionery treats this year in the U.S. are projected to be $2.26…

Police: Mom admitted to killing her 6 babies
Police: Mom admitted to killing her 6 babies

Megan Huntsman was clear about what she did with six of her newborn babies.

Family, friends remember Kansas shooting victims
Family, friends remember Kansas shooting victims

William Lewis Corporon was taking his grandson to a singing audition at a community center. Terri LaManno was visiting her mother at a nearby…

Tributes mark Boston Marathon bombing
Tributes mark Boston Marathon bombing

The anniversary of the Boston Marathon bombings was marked with a solemn wreath-laying ceremony Tuesday morning, the first tribute in a day…

Questions remain after Boston Marathon bombings
Questions remain after Boston Marathon bombings

A surveillance video shows a man prosecutors say is Dzhokhar Tsarnaev placing a bomb near the finish line of the Boston Marathon, just yards…

US Airways tweets graphic nude photo, apologizes
US Airways tweets graphic nude photo, apologizes

US Airways posted a message on Twitter that contained a graphic image in response to a passenger Monday afternoon.

Police: KC Jewish center shooting a 'hate crime'
Police: KC Jewish center shooting a 'hate crime'

Prosecutors have enough evidence to pursue hate-crime charges in the shooting spree that killed three people at a Jewish community center and…

How to get more time to file your tax return
How to get more time to file your tax return

America's annual tax reckoning is here once again and for many who have yet to file their federal tax return, that means a mad dash to…

Teachers returning to school after stabbing
Teachers returning to school after stabbing

The doors are reopening at the Pittsburgh-area high school where 21 students and a security guard were injured in a stabbing rampage five days ago.