In an open letter released today, Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz said that Starbucks will now “respectfully request” that gun owners not bring their guns into Starbucks, even in states where “open” or “concealed carry” is permitted.
“We’re not pro-gun or anti-gun,” he told Bloomberg Businessweek, but he wanted to stop events like Starbucks Appreciation Day, in which those legally permitted to carry firearms were encouraged to patronize Starbucks while brandishing firearms.
After the Sandy Hook shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, a Starbucks spokesman said “Our longstanding approach to the open-carry debate has been to comply with local laws and statutes in the communities we serve. We continue to encourage customers and advocacy groups from all sides of the debate to share their input with their elected officials, who make the open-carry laws that our company follows.”
However, in the open letter, Schultz wrote:
Pro-gun activists have used our stores as a political stage for media events misleadingly called ‘Starbucks Appreciation Days’ that disingenuously portray Starbucks as a champion of ‘open carry.’ … To be clear: we do not want these events in our stores. Some anti-gun activists have also played a role in ratcheting up the rhetoric and friction, including soliciting and confronting our customers and partners. For these reasons, today we are respectfully requesting that customers no longer bring firearms into our stores or outdoor seating areas—even in states where ‘open carry’ is permitted—unless they are identified law enforcement personnel.
In an interview with CNN Money, Schultz emphasized that this is not a “ban” on guns in Starbucks, and that patrons legally carrying firearms won’t be asked to vacate the premises.