Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz said late Tuesday that customers should no longer bring guns into Starbucks, reversing his stance on the controversial issue.
“Few topics in America generate a more polarized and emotional debate than guns,” said Schultz in a letter to “fellow Americans.”
“In recent months, Starbucks stores and our partners (employees) who work in our stores have been thrust unwillingly into the middle of this debate. That’s why I am writing today with a respectful request that customers no longer bring firearms into our stores or outdoor seating areas.”
Starbucks said that it followed local open carry laws states across the country in an email to Epoch Times last year.
The position has spurred a big backlash from a range of organizations and customers. Gun control is one of the more controversial subjects in the U.S.
Schultz said in his reversal that although the company has in the past left gun policy up to the government and local law enforcement, recent debate concerning the open carry laws has “become increasingly uncivil and, in some cases, even threatening.”
“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,'” he 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.
“For these reasons, today we are respectfully requesting that customers no longer bring firearms into our stores or outdoor seating areas—even in states where ‘open carry’ is permitted—unless they are authorized law enforcement personnel.”
Schultz said that this is not an outright ban, because of customers choose not to listen to the request they can still legally carry guns into Starbucks.
“For those who champion ‘open carry,’ please respect that Starbucks stores are places where everyone should feel relaxed and comfortable,” said Schultz. “The presence of a weapon in our stores is unsettling and upsetting for many of our customers.”
People on the post had differing reactions.
“You are not pushing customers away you are gaining more customers trust me majority of people in this country want some gun control,” said one.
“Well I only got to startbucks 4-6 times a month, that is about all I leave my country home to go to town,” said another. “There are lots of small stands I can frequent now that I will no longer spend my money at starbucks.”