Saying the open carry debate has become “increasingly uncivil and, in some cases, even threatening,” Howard Schultz, Starbucks chairman, president and chief executive officer, posted an open letter on the company’s website on Tuesday asking customers to leave their guns at home:
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 authorized law enforcement personnel.
Schultz cited the recent “Starbucks Appreciation Days,” events in which Second Amendment advocates brought their guns to Starbucks locations and made purchases to thank the coffee chain for respecting state gun laws. This led to counter-protests from anti-gun activists. Starbucks’ previous policy had been to comply with the open carry laws in the states they serve. “That means we abide by the laws that permit open carry in 43 U.S. states. Where these laws don’t exist, openly carrying weapons in our stores is not permitted.”
Schultz said it was “disingenuous” for groups to portray Starbucks as a champion of open carry. “To be clear: we do not want these events in our stores,” Schultz emphasized in the letter.
Schultz clarified that this was a request and not an outright ban. He hinted that a ban could put Starbucks employees in danger. “[E]nforcing a ban would potentially require our partners to confront armed customers, and that is not a role I am comfortable asking Starbucks partners to take on,” adding that “ the legislative and policy-making process is the proper arena for this debate, not our stores.”
Though Schultz’s letter focuses on “open carry,” his request that customers “no longer bring firearms into our stores” would seem to include “concealed carry” firearms as well.