In 'open carry' states, guns and Starbucks mix uneasily
The Starbucks coffee chain will allow customers in 'open carry' states to bear arms openly. Gun-control advocates are protesting, but Starbucks says it doesn't want to take sides.
Starbucks has become something of an unwilling pawn in a growing dispute over gun rights.
Advocates of so-called â€śopen carryâ€ť laws, which give citizens the right to wear unconcealed weapons without a permit, are hailing it for not kicking gun-toting customers out of their stores. Gun foes, meanwhile, say the coffee chain should keep its stores firearm-free (while not refusing any espresso-sipping police officers, of course).
As for Starbucks, it would rather stay out of the debate altogether.
â€śThe political, policy, and legal debates around these issues belong in the legislatures and courts, not in our stores,â€ť the company said in a statement Wednesday.
When it comes to the gun issue, Starbucks said it will abide by state laws. If a locale in which one of its shops is located allows open carry, itâ€™s not about to tell anyone wearing a revolver to get their latte elsewhere. That, the company said, would put their employees â€śin an unfair and potentially unsafe position.â€ť
Starbucks found itself in the middle of this debate after open-carry advocates began gathering at coffee shops as part of a loosely organized movement to raise awareness about gun rights and to protest policies that limit concealed weapons permits.
In California, where it's legal for residents to display unloaded weapons without a permit, businesses are within their rights to forbid guns on their premises. After the open carry groups began gathering at Peetâ€™s Coffee and Tea and California Pizza Kitchen, both chains opted to ban guns. (The Monitor wrote about the growing open carry movement here.)
The anti-gun violence Brady Campaign has urged Starbucks take a firm stance against open carry.
"The practice of packing heat in places like Starbucks is intimidating and could be potentially dangerous to our families and communities â€“ and it must be stopped," the group said in a statement. It has launched an online petition to pressure the coffee chain to change its policies.
While Starbucks hasnâ€™t taken sides on the debate, it's suddenly become the gun advocatesâ€™ favorite coffee shop.
At, a forum for open carry information, one member wrote, "I've never been a fan of Starbucks coffee, but i may have to buy one here and there now."