A group of gun advocates in Connecticut on Friday are planning to bring their weapons for an "appreciation day" at a Starbucks in Newtown, where 20 children were slaughtered in a school shooting just last year.
Over 3,000 people have signed up to participate in a Facebook event called "Starbucks Appreciation Day," which asks gun owners to "thank starbucks [sic] for standing up for our right to bear arms by going there on Friday, August 9th."
The Hartford Courant noted that some of called for a meet-up at the Newtown Starbucks between 6 p.m. and 8 p.m., but the post was taken down after the paper called attention to it.
In a statement obtained by WNBC, the Newtown Action Alliance discouraged gun groups from staging events in Newtown.
"Our community is still healing and we find it reprehensible that they are picking Newtown to rally," spokesperson David Ackert said. "It is disturbing to think that tomorrow night you and your children may be sitting in Starbucks when people carrying guns walk through the door."
Ackert told WCBS that many people "will not feel comfortable or safe when they see people walking in with guns."
"It kind of shows who the people are who would go out of the way to come to Newtown after we asked people to leave us alone," he added.
Starbucks spokesperson Zack Hutson told WTIC that the company's "stores are gathering places for the communities we serve and we respect the diverse views of our customers."
"We recognize that there is significant and genuine passion surrounding open carry weapon laws. Our long-standing approach to this topic remains unchanged. We comply with local laws and statutes in the communities we serve, abiding by laws that permit open carry. Where these laws don’t exist, openly carrying weapons in our stores is prohibited," Hutson explained.
The group Moms Demand Action, however, has called on Starbucks to set a policy prohibiting guns in stores nationwide.
"Unfortunately, this is not the first appreciation day or gun rally held at Starbucks by gun advocates – there have been many," the group pointed out in a Wednesday press release. "In fact, gun advocates regularly use Starbucks as a meeting destination because they are allowed to bring loaded weapons inside."
"Starbucks’ stance on guns inside stores is at odds with its other corporate policies. Starbucks bans smoking within 25 feet of its stores in areas where smoking would otherwise be legal. The company also bans firearms from its corporate headquarters and prohibits all employees from carrying guns – even in states where laws would allow them to do so. Like any private business, Starbucks has the legal right to prohibit firearms in its stores in the interest of its customers' safety, but has chosen not to do so, despite several in-store shootings."
Watch this video from WTNH, broadcast Aug. 9, 2013.
Newtown group objects to rally at Starbucks
[Photo: Man with concealed handgun via Shutterstock.com]