Friday, Aug. 9, was ‘Guns and Coffee’ day at Starbucks. Pro-gun activists across the country were encouraged to visit their local Starbucks coffeehouse to show support for the company’s refusal to take a stance in the national gun debate. In open carry states, this show of support meant that activists would be walking in with a holstered sidearm. One of these open carry states is Connecticut (where it's legal with a permit) and there just so happens to be a Starbucks in Newtown, site of the horrific school shooting in December 2012.
Of course, pro gun activists planned to show their support by visiting the Newtown Starbucks with their guns in plain sight. Anti-gun advocates also planned a visit to the store, to protest the day as well as Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz’s decision to not ban weapons in its stores.
Thankfully, Starbucks stepped in and decided to close the Newtown location early on Friday. In a notice published on the Starbucks website, Chris Carr, executive vice president of U.S. retail at Starbucks said,
“At Starbucks we are proud that our stores serve as gathering places for thousands of communities across the country and we appreciate that our customers share diverse points of view on issues that matter to them. We also believe in being sensitive to each community we serve.
"Today, advocacy groups from different sides of the open carry debate announced plans to visit our Newtown, Connecticut store to bring attention to their points of view. We recognize that there is significant and genuine passion surrounding this topic, however out of respect for Newtown and everything the community has been through, we decided to close our store early before the event started. Starbucks did not endorse or sponsor the event. We continue to encourage customers and advocacy groups from all sides of the debate to contact their elected officials, who make the open carry laws that our company follows. Our long-standing approach to this topic has been to comply with local laws and statutes in the communities we serve.
"Thank you for your understanding and respect for the Newtown community.”
Starbucks shouldn’t be the center of any national gun debate activities – it is a coffeehouse and the CEO is just trying to stay out of all the brouhaha. Kudos to the company for making the decision to respect the community as it continues to recover from the senseless tragedy that occurred a mere eight months ago.
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