WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. Starbucks has decided to stand its grounds against gun owners.
It’s about time.
In May, the coffee chain banned smoking not only in their shops, but within 25 feet outside them, too. So, it’s not a big stretch to imagine that second-hand bullets might one day be considered as dangerous as second-hand smoke.
And so this week, Starbucks formally placed ads to request that licensed gun owners not bring their legally obtained weapons into the coffee shops anymore.
While the new position is a request, and not an outright ban, it’s still a significant reversal for a business that had been lauded by pro-gun groups as an exemplary defender of gun rights. That’s because Starbucks has refused for years to fall in line with many other big companies that have posted signs banning guns in their places of business.
Last month, gun-rights enthusiasts went on Facebook to announce a “Starbucks Appreciation Day.”
“We will thank Starbucks for standing up for our right to bear arms by going there on Friday, Aug. 9th,” it said.
But that was one mass shooting ago, and the coffee chain has had some other incidents that put it uncomfortably in the middle of the nation’s gun debate.
In May, a Starbucks customer dropped her purse in a St. Petersburg coffee shop, causing the handgun inside the bag to fire a shot that wounded the woman’s friend in the leg. And two months later, a fight between two men over a Craigslist phone sale outside a Starbucks in Houston ended with one of the men being shot.
These incidents have prompted anti-gun groups, such as Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, to pressure the coffee chain, and sponsor a “Skip Starbucks Saturday” last month.
Shannon Watts, the founder of the Moms group, praised the coffee chain Wednesday for taking a harder line against guns in their stores.
“Much like smoking was once accepted on airplanes and drunk driving was abided without severe penalties, it is becoming passe for gun advocates – who may or may not have background checks, training or permits – to bring their weapons to public places,” she said in a prepared statement.“We thank and congratulate Starbucks for making this decision and for taking the safety of our children and families as seriously as mothers do.”
Gun-rights groups have quickly condemned the Starbucks move as a regrettable response to pressure by those who don’t respect the Second Amendment.
“I’ve already gotten 29 calls about it,” said Todd Von Bender, the 51-year-old founder of the Sarasota-based Armed Citizens League.“The blowback should be that we all start boycotting Starbucks to show that we are legitimate citizens, and that one thing we don’t like in America is being wishy-washy.”
Florida law already bans the state’s 1-million-plus concealed weapons permit holders from bringing their guns inside courthouses, schools and universities, bars, airports, professional sporting events and meetings of the Florida Legislature.
Businesses not specified by the law can put up signs saying weapons are banned, but patrons who ignore those signs are only subject to being denied service, and potentially being cited with a trespass warning to discourage them from returning.
“We chuckle at these signs,” said Von Bender, a firearms instructor.“If it’s a concealed weapon, nobody’s going to know about it anyway. The worse thing that can happen is that they ask you to leave.”
Or you drop the gun and accidentally shoot your friend in the leg. I guess there’s that, too.
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