Can you really call something a ban if it is not enforced? Yesterday, Starbucks CEO, Howard Schultz, posted a letter to the American public asking their gun-carrying customers very nicely to leave their hardware at home. But how effective will this request be?
Starbucks has recently been scrutinized by anti-gun activists for its stance on open carry, allowing customers to bring firearms into their stores as long as they abide by local laws and regulations. On Starbucks appreciation day, August 9th, things got especially heated as pro-gun groups and anti-gun groups clashed in front of a Starbucks in Newton, Connecticut. The community is still grieving after the Sandy Hook shooting, and a meeting for gun enthusiasts was scheduled at the coffee house for the unofficial Starbucks Appreciation Day. The store closed early out of respect for the community, avoiding a potentially much larger confrontation. Events like this precipitated the decision for the popular coffee chain to implement the new policy. Schultz states in his letter that the company does not want to be portrayed as anti-gun or pro-gun, but the “friction” created between the two groups at these events has become too much. They want their customers to feel safe.
Requesting that customers comply with the new policy and enforcing the new policy are two very different things. Allegedly, companies like IKEA have taken a more actionable stance, kicking customers out of their stores and calling the police if they find someone has a gun on the premises. Other companies like Pete’s Coffee and Tea and California Pizza Kitchen have also banned guns, even in areas where open carry is allowed. In his statement, Schultz explained that he does not wish to put employees in the position of confronting a gun-carrying customer. In fact, if you go into a Starbucks carrying a licensed firearm, they will still serve you. The Starbucks CEO is hoping customers will comply with their wishes and leave the guns at home or in their vehicles.
So far, the repercussions for taking this stance for these companies seem fairly benign. A few pro-gun groups have advocated for boycotts on the establishments, but business does not seem to have suffered. IKEA , Pete’s Coffee, and California Pizza Kitchen are still incredibly popular and will likely remain so.
Pizza Hut had a policy that prohibited customers from carrying guns into their stores. They even fired a pizza delivery driver for defending himself against a would-be robber with a firearm while on the job. Even though the police found no evidence of wrong doing, the driver violated Pizza Hut’s no weapons rule and was terminated. In 2010, the company reversed its policy for customers carrying licensed firearms in response to Arizona’s new gun laws, but their employees are still prohibited from carrying firearms.
It remains to be seen whether or not Starbucks will be forced to take a harder stance against its pro-gun customers. But they have left themselves the option to take it one step further, should gun advocates decide to ignore their polite request and continue wearing firearms in their establishments. Rather than simply asking their customers to leave guns at home, the Starbucks CEO could implement a policy for employees to call the police in the event that someone enters a store carrying a gun. For now at least, it seems pro-gun advocates are more likely to boycott Starbucks rather than press the issue openly.
Written By: Danyelle C. Overbo