Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz stepped into the guns debate, saying Tuesday he wanted to discourage customers from carrying guns into its stores and outside dining areas.
Schultz told USA Today
that while he is not calling for an outright ban on guns at Starbucks, he would like to see his stores become as much of a gun-free zone as possible. He said the company is taking out full-page newspaper advertisements announcing the company's view in Thursday's editions of USA Today, the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and Washington Post.
"The presence of a weapon in our stores is unsettling and upsetting for many of our customers," said Schultz.
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The announcement comes just days after the mass-killing left 13 dead at Washington's Navy Yard. Schultz told USA Today that the timing of the policy is unrelated. He said the coffee company seriously considered delaying the announcement after Monday's shooting, but decided to move forward.
Schultz said that while Starbucks already concedes to gun laws in each particular state on open carry, some have taken that as a company position on gun rights.
"Pro-gun activists have used our stores as a political stage for media events misleadingly called 'Starbucks Appreciation Days' that disingenuously portray Starbucks as a champion of 'open carry,'" Schultz said. "To be clear: we do not want these events in our stores. Some anti-gun activists have also played a role in ratcheting up the rhetoric and friction, including soliciting and confronting our customers and partners."
Along with the gun-rights "Starbucks Appreciation Day," Forbes magazine
pointed to an event at a Sioux Falls, S.D. Starbucks on July 28 that attracted some 6o people carrying handguns, shotguns and semi-automatic rifles as another possible flashpoint for the announcement.
"At this point we'll sit and monitor the situation," said Schultz. "We're hoping that most people will honor the request. But even if gun-carrying customers don't honor the request, we'll serve them with a smile and not confront them."
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reported that the group Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, which was formed the day after the Newtown, Conn., school shooting, had been organizing "Skip Starbucks Saturdays" to urge the coffee company to ban guns at its stores.
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