The "open carry" movement, in which gun owners carry unconcealed handguns as they go about their everyday business, is loosely organized around the country but has been gaining traction in recent months. Gun-control advocates have been pushing to quash the movement, including by petitioning the Starbucks coffee chain to ban guns on its premises.
Businesses have the final say on their property. But the ones that don't opt to ban guns — such as Starbucks — have become parade grounds of sorts for open-carry advocates.
Starbucks on Wednesday, while bemoaning being thrust into the debate, defended its long-standing policy of complying with state open-carry weapons laws, in part by stating that its baristas, or "partners," could be harmed if the stores were to ban guns. The chain said that in the 43 states where open carry is legal, it has about 4,970 company-operated stores.
The company added: "The political, policy and legal debates around these issues belong in the legislatures and courts, not in our stores."
In other words, the corporation simply adopted the position that what is recognized as the “law of the land” ought to apply inside their stores, as well: It was not the policy of Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz and his board of directors to jump into the middle of one of the more contentious civil liberty struggles going on in America today.
Although the press has appeared bent on dragging Starbucks into the camp of those who would restrict the ability of Americans to defend themselves, Schultz has remained focused on his job: Running a coffee company. According to a story online at ABCNews.go.com:
"We woke up one day and all [of a] sudden Starbucks was in the middle of this political crossfire between the people who want to bring a gun into Starbucks and the people who want to prevent it," said Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz. "It is a very difficult, fragile situation. We're trying to abide by the law."
In an exclusive interview to air on "Nightline" tonight, Schultz admitted guns in Starbucks are at odds with his vision of what the company should be. But the Fortune 500 CEO said: "I'm not a politician. I run a coffee company and we're trying to abide by the laws in which we do business."
Despite the cliche of coffee houses being the haunt of the Left, Starbucks has thus far refused to surrender to pressure generated by opponents of the Second Amendment. State law usually leaves it to proprietors to voluntarily ban firearms (including those carried with a concealed-carry permit, as in the case of 30.06 postings in Texas) from their places of business, if they desire to do so, but Starbucks has apparently decided not to exercise that option.
Perhaps it is time for “Tea Party” activists to learn something from “open carry” advocates: Remember that the Sons of Liberty threw the tea in Boston Harbor, and stick to a good old American “cup of joe.”
Photo: AP Images