By Tom Quiner
You’re sipping on a cup of coffee at the coffee shop with friends.
You look up. A guy just walked in with a shot gun to buy a cup of coffee. Does this make you feel comfortable or uncomfortable?
This is happening in Starbucks stores around the country, says Starbucks Chairman Howard Schultz. The Board of Directors voted to ask Starbucks customers NOT to bring weapons into their stores. Wall Street Journal columnist, Peggy Noonan, asked Chairman Schultz about this situation:
Why did you do this? Why does Starbucks have to have a position on people bringing guns in for coffee?
Mr. Schultz explained:
“We are not a policy maker and we’re not on any level anti-gun. But over the past four months there’s been episodes in and around our stores that alarmed us. Advocates on both sides [of the gun debate] began to stage events in and around Starbucks stores that mischaracterized Starbucks’ brand and position. That was not in the interests of our company, our shareholders and employees. So open-carry comes, and we abide by the law. But it began to disturb us, the number of customers and children who became alarmed at seeing people in the store carrying guns. . . .
We had a couple situations the past few weeks where some people walked in with rifles! [Some local Starbucks stores] became a staging area for the argument over Second Amendment rights. We’re not pro-gun or anti-gun, and we decided to respectfully ask gun owners to leave their guns out of Starbucks.”
Noonan followed up:
Why did Starbucks become a theater of the gun debate?
“Our stores are a meeting place, coffee’s been part of conversation for hundreds of years. This fact “became a natural opportunity for people to use us as a staging ground.”
Noonan posed a practical question:
How do you imagine this working—how do people who carry guns in open-carry states disarm themselves to get a cup of coffee?
Schultz revealed how boxed in Starbucks is on the matter:
“This decision was made through the lens of our values. . . . It’s not a ban. We’ll serve customers and not ask them to leave. . . . I personally have spent endless hours on this issue. I’ve spoken to passionate advocates on both sides.” He notes that two members of the Starbucks board are former Defense Secretary Bob Gates and former Sen. Bill Bradley. The board voted in support of the request. “We viewed this through the lens of bipartisanship.”
Bottom line: I don’t relish the thought of someone toting a rifle while I’m sipping on my morning java. How about you?