Starbucks asks U.S. customers to leave guns at home

Wed Sep 18, 2013 5:17am EDT
 
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By Lisa Baertlein

(Reuters) - Coffee chain Starbucks Corp has asked U.S. customers to leave their guns at home after being dragged into an increasingly fractious debate over U.S. gun rights in the wake of multiple mass shootings.

While many U.S. restaurant chains and retailers do not allow firearms on their properties, Starbucks' policy had been to default to local gun laws, including "open carry" regulations in many U.S. states that allow people to bring guns into stores.

In August, this led gun-rights advocates to hold a national "Starbucks Appreciation Day" to thank the firm for its stance, pulling the company deeper into the fierce political fight.

Locations for Starbucks Appreciation Day events included Newtown, Connecticut, where 20 children and six adults were shot dead in an elementary school in December. Starbucks closed that shop before the event was scheduled to begin.

Chief Executive Howard Schultz said in an open letter to customers late Tuesday that 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."

The coffee chain did not, however, issue an outright ban on guns in its nearly 7,000 company-owned cafes, saying this would potentially require staff to confront armed customers.

The Seattle-based company hoped to give "responsible gun owners a chance to respect its request," Schultz said.

The CEO told Reuters the policy change was not the result of the Newtown Starbucks Appreciation Day event, which prompted the Newtown Action Alliance to call on the company to ban guns at all of its U.S. stores. Nor was it in response to the mass shootings this week at the Washington Navy Yard.   Continued...

 
Coffee packages are pictured on display at a Starbucks Coffee store in Pasadena, California July 25, 2013. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni