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Continued: Starbucks says guns are no longer welcome

  • Article by: CANDICE CHOI , Associated Press
  • Last update: September 18, 2013 - 7:16 PM

Competing demonstrations

Such stances explain why Moms Demand Action, which was founded the day after the mass shootings in Newtown last December, has been urging Starbucks to ban guns with its “Skip Starbucks Saturdays.”

In turn, gun rights advocates have been galvanized by the company’s decision to defer to local laws and staged the “Starbucks Appreciation Days.”

Schultz said the events mischaracterized the company’s stance on the issue and the demonstrations “have made our customers uncomfortable.”

He said he hopes people will honor the request not to bring in guns but says the company will nevertheless serve those who do.“We will not ask you to leave,” he said.

Starbucks planned to buy ad space in major national newspapers including the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post and USA Today to run an open letter from Schultz explaining the decision.

The letter points to recent activities by both gun rights and gun control advocates at its stores, saying that it has been “thrust unwillingly” into the middle of the national debate over firearms.

As for the “Starbucks Appreciation Days” being staged by gun rights advocates, the letter stresses: “To be clear: We do not want these events in our stores.”

The letter notes that Starbucks is standing by its position that the matter should ultimately be left to lawmakers.

Schultz also said he doesn’t want to put workers in the position of having to confront armed customers by banning guns.

‘Feel unwelcome’

Phillip Hofmeister, president of gun rights group Michigan Open Carry Inc., said he respects the right of private businesses such as Starbucks to determine their own gun policies. But he noted that the message was confusing.

“They’re trying to make people like myself feel unwelcome but it’s not an outright ban,” said Hofmeister, who said he has been carrying a gun in public where permitted for the past several years.

Even if there’s no ban, Hofmeister said he won’t patronize a business where he didn’t feel welcome.

Several companies do not allow firearms in their stores, including Peet’s Coffee & Tea and Whole Foods.

Representatives for those two companies said there haven’t been any problems with enforcing their gun bans.

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  • Gun rights advocates gathered outside a Starbucks that had closed early in response to the group’s planned “Starbucks Appreciation Days” event in Newtown, Conn., last month. CEO Howard Schultz’s letter said, “To be clear: We do not want these events in our stores.”

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