Wednesday, September 18, 2013

If I Wanted Waffles, I'd Have Gone To Waffle House

Howard Schultz, CEO of Starbucks, released an open letter yesterday requesting that Starbucks' customers no longer carry when they visit Starbucks. It is a waffling statement meant to appease the gun prohibitionists while at the same time trying not to offend the gun culture too much. As Neville Chamberlain would ruefully attest, appeasement is never a good policy.

Mr. Schultz should realize that appeasement is never a good policy when dealing with those who would seek to curtail civil rights.

Schultz's statement is below:
Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Posted by Howard Schultz, Starbucks chairman, president and chief executive officer

Dear Fellow Americans,

Few topics in America generate a more polarized and emotional debate than guns. 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.

From the beginning, our vision at Starbucks has been to create a “third place” between home and work where people can come together to enjoy the peace and pleasure of coffee and community. Our values have always centered on building community rather than dividing people, and our stores exist to give every customer a safe and comfortable respite from the concerns of daily life.

We appreciate that there is a highly sensitive balance of rights and responsibilities surrounding America’s gun laws, and we recognize the deep passion for and against the “open carry” laws adopted by many states. (In the United States, “open carry” is the term used for openly carrying a firearm in public.) For years we have listened carefully to input from our customers, partners, community leaders and voices on both sides of this complicated, highly charged issue.

Our company’s longstanding approach to “open carry” has been to follow local laws: we permit it in states where allowed and we prohibit it in states where these laws don’t exist. We have chosen this approach because we believe our store partners should not be put in the uncomfortable position of requiring customers to disarm or leave our stores. We believe that gun policy should be addressed by government and law enforcement—not by Starbucks and our store partners.

Recently, however, we’ve seen the “open carry” debate 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.” 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.

I would like to clarify two points. First, this is a request and not an outright ban. Why? Because we want to give responsible gun owners the chance to respect our request—and also because enforcing a ban would potentially require our partners to confront armed customers, and that is not a role I am comfortable asking Starbucks partners to take on. Second, we know we cannot satisfy everyone. For those who oppose “open carry,” we believe the legislative and policy-making process is the proper arena for this debate, not our stores. For those who champion “open carry,” please respect that Starbucks stores are places where everyone should feel relaxed and comfortable. The presence of a weapon in our stores is unsettling and upsetting for many of our customers.

I am proud of our country and our heritage of civil discourse and debate. It is in this spirit that we make today’s request. Whatever your view, I encourage you to be responsible and respectful of each other as citizens and neighbors.


Howard Schultz
I, for one, will "respect" Mr. Schultz's request - I won't carry, concealed or openly, in his stores. I will even go one step further and no longer patronize his stores or his products.

By the way, open carry has been legal in North Carolina without a permit since 1921. That is when the North Carolina Supreme Court ruled it was legal in State v. Kerner saying that the right to keep and bear arms under the North Carolina Constitution was "a sacred right".


  1. While I dislike his position, I also find it rather mealy-mouthed and is probably his intent. He is trying really hard to walk the tightrope that keeps everyone happy, including anti-gun bigots.

    But I figure that if he doesn't have the biscuits to come right out and say gun people are unwelcome and post his stores (as he must by law in my state), then I'll go in Starbucks if I like, carrying concealed or openly. If it makes a pants-wetting hoplophobe unhappy, *they* can go somewhere else, call the police, whatever. If the store isn't posted, then I'm doing nothing wrong.

    I don't go there much anyway, but if he wants me out, he needs to nut up and come out and say so by posting his stores. Then I'll take my money elsewhere. I'd like to be angrier about this, but I'm not.

  2. I'm surprised he didn't go farther. Impressed, actually.

    Open Carry 'activists' forced Starbucks into a national debate that the private company wanted nothing to do with. Starbucks did not consent to becoming the poster boy for Open Carry, and they made clear they wanted nothing to do with it. Now some gun people (a minority) pushed Starbucks into the issue, and as a result the company is now forced to say, "we didn't want anything to do with this issue and did not take a stand. We begged to be left out of it. But because you don't know how to play nice, we don't want you around our stores anymore."

    This is not an overreaction by Starbucks to innocent and casual OC. This is them telling us to stop forcing them into political theater. The OC 'activists' here invented a national movement revolving around Starbucks, in order to spike an imaginary football (that Starbucks loves OC) in the gun control end zone. Starbucks just took away our ball. They took away the illusion that they want to get into this debate. The result is not good for us.

    We always complain how "Company X" should stick to their widget-making and stop commenting on social policy and guns (Hollywood, Ikea, whatever). But then we go off and force someone making widgets to become an unwilling object in a political fight.

    This is not about OC versus CC. This is a simple matter of prudence and respect. Starbucks was perfectly happy to have us around, and resisted calls to toss us out their doors. Then we behaved badly - by making them our pawn in this fight. Now they did the understandable and told us to bugger off.

    I like OC, but these games are the things that make it damn hard to protect and expand. Political types are not going to take a chance on people who cannot figure out how to be nice in public. Forcing others to become our tokens is bad karma.

    If I drank coffee, I would still go to Starbucks. They weren't the bad guys here and I find their response understandable. We forced the issue and got burnt.

  3. "This is not an overreaction by Starbucks to innocent and casual OC. This is them telling us to stop forcing them into political theater. The OC 'activists' here invented a national movement revolving around Starbucks, in order to spike an imaginary football (that Starbucks loves OC) in the gun control end zone. Starbucks just took away our ball. They took away the illusion that they want to get into this debate. The result is not good for us."

    This is truth. This outcome can be laid squarely at the feet of the OC "activists" who decided that, rather than simply enjoying being able to OC the pistol they normally carry everywhere else they go into Starbucks when they got a cup of coffee, instead Starbuck's simple abiding by state law and not hassling them should be rubbed in the faces of the anti-gunners by bringing in rifles and thigh rigs and other nonsense during "events."

    It's BS, if the intent is to "normalize" OC the best way to do so is to OC normally, not to "send a message." We already had the right, the only direction to go was down.


  4. F___ if you won't support others in exercising their rights. They're not idiots, they just refuse to normalize suppression of their natural rights. Time to decide which side you are on.

  5. You're the same sort of people who'd say "I guess the niggers had it coming!"

  6. Rather strong words there. Let's break it down:

    - "F___ if you won't support others in exercising their rights."

    In fairness this is the internet and you don't know who is here. Suffice to say many of us have done a might bit more than emote incoherently about not getting the things we want from private entities who not required to give it to us. You have no right to enter a private business with a gun. None.

    - "They're not idiots, they just refuse to normalize suppression of their natural rights."

    No, they are idiots because the actually caused suppression of their chosen activity in a place that once allowed it. Starbucks suppressed nothing before the OC Militants decided to make them a pawn in their games. Read slowly, again: Starbucks had no issues with gun carriers in their store until the brainiacs of the OC Militantancy movement decided to play games. The only reason there is a backslide is because of our community. Nothing else.

    - "Time to decide what side you are on."

    Made that decision a long time ago. Won't compare notes on who did more than the other. To be clear, I am a fan of normalized OC. Think it's great and should expand. The problem I have is the people who think "normal" includes drama whoring and in-yer-face activism that intentionally uses a gun as a prop in some theatrical loop running in their heads.

    If you use a gun as a prop in an argument, you are wrong. Guns are for defense and for sport. Not for argument.

    Maybe it truly is time to pick sides. On one we have people working to truly normalize carry in all its forms, nationwide. They deftly work legislative, judicial and executive angles to make inroads where they can.

    On the other side, we have those who think it is appropriate to use unwilling third-parties - Starbucks, the Hipster Family that doesn't know the law or the gun-toting dude with a camera who is looking for an 'event' with a cop and the public, etc. One has moved OC forward. The other has (unarguably) moved it back, especially when it comes to Starbucks. One is working to make the public comfortable, the other makes them uncomfortable. Public opinion matters because the laws are written by the people who listen to the public.

    Politicians are not going to pass a law to allow more OC Militants to gin up more creepy events. Sorry, not going to happen. And because of that, there are going to be fewer of us who can OC when we wish. And I know who I can thank for that.

  7. Those of you decrying OC "militants" of course have a good point, but this was not a measured response. A ban of OC of long guns and very possibly handguns would have been acceptable to most of us, but he swept up low profile concealed carry types as well, albeit without an official ban. I cannot read this as a neutral, we want out of this debate position.