Did Gun Owners Overreach With Starbucks?

After overreach by gun rights advocates through a special appreciation day, Starbucks has asked gun-owning customers to leave their guns at home.

Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz in a file photo

In response to gun owner overreach, Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz pled to gun owners to leave their guns at home in an announcement today. (Image Source:  Reuters)

Today, Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz made an impassioned plea to gun-toting Starbucks customers: Please leave your guns at home.  Schultz made clear that his announcement was not a move to ban guns from Starbucks location across the country, but rather a means to minimize their presence.  While the timing of Schultz's announcement — coming after a mass shooting at the Washington Navy Yard — makes things suspect, the message should come across clear to gun owners:  They took things too far with their "Starbucks Appreciation Day."

Last month, gun owners announced on Facebook a "Starbucks Appreciation Day."  This is because of Starbucks' previously established rule of allowing guns in their stores, dependent on local and state gun laws.  Gun owners sought the day as a way of thanking Starbucks for respecting their gun rights.  Unfortunately, among the Starbucks locations included was one located a ten-minute drive from Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, the location of the shooting massacre in 2012 that led to a resurgence of the gun control debate.

Consequently, groups supporting the victims of the Sandy Hook massacre sent open letters to Howard Schultz, attempting to persuade him to change company policy to ban guns from Starbucks stores.  Not helping matters is the fact that one of the Sandy Hook victims, Lauren Rousseau, was a Starbucks employee who likely worked at the same store where the "Starbucks Appreciation Day" took place.

Howard Schultz's response seems to be a compromise on both positions: Refusing to ban guns, out of principle of preventing employees from being forced to face customers with a weapon, but discouraging gun owners from bringing their guns into a Starbucks store in the first place.  Schultz claims that the main reason for the announcement was to step out of the gun control debate they were dragged into, stating that "Starbucks is not a policy maker," along with receiving customer complaints about gun owners openly toting their guns around, making them feel uncomfortable.

In essence, Schultz's announcement reflects a classic case of overreach on gun owners' parts.  While the rule was likely known to gun owners, it was not known to the general public.  Starbucks likely wanted nothing to do with the gun control debate, and were likely forced to make a move because gun rights advocates seemed intent on making their presence felt wherever they went.  If gun rights advocates left Starbucks alone, there would not have been a controversy over the rule, and everybody would be mostly okay sipping their venti lattes.

Gun rights advocates may have won a political victory in recent days thanks to a recall election that replaced two Colorado State Senators in a dispute over gun control.  However, when they create scenes that clearly make people awkward and uncomfortable such as "Starbucks Appreciation Days," they are not winning over any friends, and they damage their public image as a result.  Given that the typical Starbucks customer is far more uncomfortable around guns than what gun owners and Second Amendment supporters would think, a better idea would have been to target a store that clearly supports gun rights, such as Walmart or Home Depot. 

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