I stopped at Starbucks for a coffee Friday morning, even though in the Wall Street Journal of the previous day Starbucks chairman Howard Schultz had pleaded with me to leave my civil rights at home. I wanted to see if anyone had been so brazen as to openly pack a firearm while buying a latte and blueberry scone (or a chocolate croissant if one were available).
Starbucks has decided to ask its customers not to openly carry guns into its coffee shops, even though in the past it has said if local laws allow so-called “open carry” of arms, it’s okay with Starbucks, which now doesn’t care if you have the civil right to carry, they just don’t want you to exercise it.
“We have chosen this approach because we believe our store partners (aka employees) should not be put in the uncomfortable position of requiring customers to disarm or leave our stores,” Schultz wrote in the full-page ad Starbucks placed in the Journal and other large newspapers.
To its credit, Starbucks has tried not to wade into the gun-law debates, even though it has taken usually liberal stands on other issues. For example, it refuses to do business with coffee growers who submit their workers to daily whippings.
“Our company’s longstanding approach to open carry has been to follow local laws: We permit it in states where allowed and we prohibit it in states where these laws don’t exist,” Schultz writes.
What he doesn’t write is that most states which allow the open carrying of firearms also allow individual merchants to prohibit such arms in their places of business. In other words, Starbucks could put up a “no guns allowed” sign in, say, Arizona, and open-carriers would have to take their big irons off before entering.
But Schultz doesn’t want to go that far. “We are respectfully requesting that customers no longer bring firearms into our stores or outdoor seating areas ...” he writes.
Of course, law-enforcement personnel are exempted from this request.
Maybe he doesn’t want any of his customers to be tempted to draw down on any baristas who may get an order wrong. Or maybe he doesn’t want an armed person holding up one of his stores, although the holding-up is usually done from the other side of the counter. Have you seen the prices they charge there for coffee, stale pastries and sandwiches? That’s the crime.
The Methodist and Luth-eran coffee hours have Starbucks beat six ways to Sunday, if you’ll pardon my saying so. And they don’t allow guns in church, either.