Starbucks Declares Guns Unwelcome, but Doesn’t Ban Them

by JULIE JARGON, The Wall Street Journal  |  published on September 20, 2013

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Starbucks Corp. on Wednesday asked gun owners to stop bringing their weapons into its cafés, thrusting the coffee giant deeper into a national debate over firearms that has proven vexing for retailers and other businesses.

The request, made in an open letter from Chief Executive Howard Schultz, was a response to intensifying pressure on the company for allowing customers to openly carry weapons in states that permit it. Gun control advocates had criticized the company for its laissez-faire stance, while gun rights advocates had lauded its position.

In his written appeal, posted Tuesday night on the Starbucks website, Mr. Schultz said the tussle, exploited by both sides of the gun issue, has “become increasingly uncivil and, in some cases, even threatening.”

“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,” Mr. Schultz wrote in the letter. Starbucks plans to publish the appeal in newspaper advertisements Thursday.

The carefully calibrated statement stopped short of banning guns—as a handful of other retailers have done—at Starbucks’s more than 11,000 outlets in the U.S. Mr. Schultz said he wants “to give responsible gun owners the chance to respect our request” and doesn’t want to put employees in the position of confronting armed customers. Starbucks doesn’t plan to post signs in its stores asserting its position, a spokesman said.

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