Visitors to the Starbucks website will find a new blog entry from CEO Howard Schultz: a letter written to the coffee chain’s gun-owning customers.

“Dear fellow Americans,” the letter greeted, “ 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.”

In the months following the Newtown shooting and the resurgence of the gun control debate, Starbucks locations across America have strangely found themselves a site for political discourse. The coffee chain permits open carry in areas where it is legal to do so. It is a stance that some gun owners have taken as a sign of support from Starbucks and pro-gun demonstrators began to hold events in or near the coffeehouses. Shultz explains that Starbucks neither supports or opposes gun rights; their hands-off policy was simply part of the company’s search for a relaxed atmosphere in their stores.

“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,” Schultz said in the letter. “[…] 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 Starbucks customers and employees say they are uncomfortable around open displays of firearms, while pro-gun activists maintain they are exercising a constitutional right. Schultz writes that gun control advocates have also had a hand in “ratcheting up the rhetoric and fiction,” leading to in-store confrontations.

Starbucks has long striven to stay out of the political arena, but Schultz’s letter is sure to displease at least some customers. In very careful words, Shultz requests that customers refrain from bringing firearms to Starbucks in the future.

It is, however, not an absolute ban. Gun owners who continue to bring—openly-carried or concealed—firearms into Starbucks locations will still be served.

“Why?” writes Shultz. “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.”

The Starbucks chief executive goes on to assure those invested in the gun control debate that the company is not taking sides and that the “legislative and policy-making process is the proper arena for this debate, not our stores.”

Image from Ritche M. Asagra on the Wikimedia Commons

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65 thoughts on “Starbucks CEO Writes to Gun Owners, Asks Customers to Keep Firearms at Home

  1. Is not Shultz’s invitation that clientele leave their guns at home the absolute opposite of a policy welcoming legally armed citizens?
    The fellow is trying to be clever and have it both ways…by which he encourages my absence…and robbers.

  2. This is a reasonable request and should be honored. Open carry in Starbucks is a direct insult (both financial and social) to a friend. Don’t be stupid.

    1. the “reasonable” part of his request is for there not be meetings or demonstrations at, or in front of the stores. asking gun owners to “leave them home,” is taking sides.
      how is he a friend with this statement???


    1. yeah, I would just tell the cashier that I can’t pay for their $7.00 cup of coffee ’cause I felt that opening my wallet in the store and maybe showing my Tea Party card might start a riot; so I left it home.

    2. I never paid more than $2.00 for a cup of coffee which is only $0.10-0.25 more than most competitor with lower quality coffee (I like my coffee black and dark roasted).

      Maybe not buying a specialty coffee would help.

  4. Hey I disagree with not open carrying in the store. If he is willing to leave the “no guns” signs off the store and I can still legally carry concealed and get a cup of coffee so be it. Now, if the signs go up I’ll find a different coffee shop. Honestly, I’m not trying to make a political statement. I’m trying to protect my family and get some caffeine.

    1. Exactly DP, I’m under the conviction that they can take thier PC moment and a roll of toilet paper and…..also, let some whack-job do a “workplace violence” as “dear leader” likes to call it at one of his coffee houses and he’d wished he would have typed that letter to us Gun Owners on the same toilet paper…..

  5. Just grow a pair already and post the signs saying guns are not allowed on the property. He is a lame politician just like all the others.
    We need all business owners to oppose the presence of weapons on their property, in order to begin arresting these lunatic gun nuts for criminal trespass.
    Remember the Johnny Cash song, “Don’t take your guns to town”?
    Ignoring that advice gets people killed.

    1. Ralph your sense is anything but common, you sir are an idiot!
      If you have a business I wish you would post the name and location here so all us lunatic gun owners can safely avoid spending any of our hard earned money at you PC establishment!

      1. Yes, I’m the one lacking in common sense, says the brainiac who wants me to advertise my location to all the paranoid armed and angry gun nuts that rabidly disagree with me.
        Well played, Einstein.

      2. Ralph listen to what you are saying, and you expect people to think we are the ones that are paranoid! Man you need to get a life!

      3. seems to me you wouldn’t be so worried if you Had a gun and knew how to use it.
        we can find you if we wanted to. sleep well tonight.

      4. Yeah sure… because it’s the licensed gun owners that are the problem, right?

        You’re quite the tool if you think that’s the case. More than 99% of all gun violence is committed by those who have ZERO business owning a gun.

        I challenge you to post a sign on the front door of your home saying;

        If you’re NOT willing to do that, then you realize (correctly) that you’d be creating an inviting target for criminals. It’s always better if they think you MIGHT have a gun.

        That proves that you RELY on law abiding gun owners for your protection… even if you don’t own a gun yourself.

        It is we gun owners that plant the seeds of doubt in the criminal element. Every criminal must consider that he MIGHT face a gun owning citizen. It is we who make a potential criminal think twice before entering YOUR home (or any other). It is we who prevent a LOT of street violence.

        Ever notice that those areas where gun ownership is highest… enjoy the lowest crime rates? Ever notice that places that have OUTLAWED guns (like Chicago) have the highest murder rates, violent crime rates, and theft?

        In essence, America’s gun owners protect you whether you like it or not.

      5. “Absence of guns”???? Gun laws do NOT make guns magically disappear.

        All through history, and all over the globe, every time guns have been made illegal, ONLY the law abiding citizens actually hand over their guns. This is common sense… criminals (by definition) do not follow laws.

        Disarming the law abiding citizenry is a recipe for disaster. Every place on earth that has confiscated guns has seen a drastic rise in violent crime, and especially violent crimes against women and the elderly.

        Many places have FAR worse results. In almost every historical instance where a dictatorial or corrupt regime has risen, you can trace the turning point to the confiscation of privately owned weapons. Gun registration schemes are nothing new. They have ALWAYS been used as a predecessor for confiscation.

        The rise of Nazism came after the Weimar republic confiscated guns (and of course the Nazis did not turn in their guns). After the Nazis rose to power, they promptly used the gun registry to disarm Jews and others who might oppose them.

  6. Let’s remember that tragic events with multiple lives lost were not “criminals”; There were friends and family members that had very difficult mental health issues. If those on the right or left really want to stop more from happening, that is what we must focus on. I don’t wan’t to meet one of those persons in a Starbucks or anywhere else…but right now I could. That’s why I support things like background checks for all gun owners, and a better health care monitoring system that would keep guns away from the unstable. Will it be perfect? No. It is because we are human and humans aren’t perfect. But we have to at least try – the current situation is untenable.

    1. These wack’os that did these massacres went thru background checks!
      It’s the lazy assed government workers that aren’t doing their jobs that continue to let these people slip through the cracks!

      1. not sure that’s altogether true. the system is at fault. many states aren’t reporting mental health problems like they should. also, the Best defense is the warning signs the killers give off well before they spring into action. family and friends need to be observant and report.

      2. carl you are correct to a point; When someone becomes above firing for dereliction of their job description then we all suffer! This happens all too often with government jobs; positions what ever you want to call them!
        It is like the tenure that a teacher receives after being on the job for a specified time, then it doesn’t matter if they teach or not their job is secure and only the children suffer!
        It’s the same with government workers who don’t have to worry about their jobs, they don’t care if the work is done or not!

      3. The cops responded when Aaron Alexis was wandering his hotel claiming to be hearing voices. He told the cops the government was sending microwaves into his brain.

        If the cops didn’t do an immediate check on this guy for a weapons permit and/or weapons in his room, they are SERIOUSLY at fault. That’s standard procedure when someone is suspected of mental health issues. At the VERY least, that incident should have earned him a couple days mental health observation.

        Alexis also had several other priors that SHOULD have warranted revocation of his license.

        He thought a coworker was making fun of him and then went and shot out the guys tires… how on earth did he manage to keep a gun license after that one?

        And then shooting through the ceiling and almost hitting his neighbor… another grounds for removal of his gun license.

        If we can’t trust the government to enforce the 18,000+ gun laws already on the books… WHAT GOOD WILL MORE LAWS DO ??

  7. Gun owners like everyone else have a choice in where they spend their money!
    None of these business owners are telling people to leave their cars at home, and there is no constitutional amendment guaranteeing your right to own and drive a car. And by the way many thousands more people are killed with cars than guns!
    Screw Starbucks!!!!

  8. He owns a business and has every right to ask what he wishes. Gun and non gun carry have a choice to enter his business or no. The more arrogant and abusive posts by carry types seems to not respect his rights and make carry folks look like childish fools. Time to back of the extreme stuff and learn to respect the other sides views or in this case a business owners decisions. Grow up and back off the extreme rhetoric’s that do no one any good. Time to respect everyone rights and accept various levels of comfort for us all. He was being respectful in his request, and yes there are folks very uncomfortable seeing someone with a gun. You can get more support for sane gun laws with respect then with useless childish rhetoric.

      1. Proud gun owner/hunter for years, but getting very weary of my gun rights being hijacked by extreme’s, gun bullies on one side and ostrich head in sand “no guns for anyone on other” While issue now reeking of money from outrageous prices for guns and more so ammo, and lobby money flowing to both extremes. Fed up with paranoids on both sides. Way past time for sane gun-knowledgeable sportsmen and gun control folks to set down, talk, listen and recommend rules and laws to assure both sides comfortable. Way to much outside special interests involved on both sides.

    1. I never said be disrespectful, just leave his business unconfrontational and get your coffee from someone else!
      I think that is clear enough,and non threatening!

    2. So you’re saying it’s OKAY for a private business owner to disavow the bill of rights for reasons of safety, or merely to keep their patrons from feeling “uncomfortable”.


      I think we should BAN MUSLIMS from certain business establishments, especially if they are OPENLY Muslim (wearing certain garb, etc). I realize that freedom of religion is a “guaranteed right”, but so is the right to keep and bear arms. What’s the difference? None whatsoever.

      By your logic, any business owner can and SHOULD ban those people that might make their clientele “uncomfortable”… especially if the media has planted the idea that those particular people might have a tendency to become violent.

      In fact, by your logic, we should start passing thousands of LAWS restricting the actions of Muslims (all in the name of public safety of course). We can restrict those Koranic passages that might be considered “dangerous features”. We can require that they become LICENSED, and that they are all entered into a federal database.

      We can do screenings and mental health checks to make sure that nobody with mental health issues has access to Korans or to Islamic teachings. That has been shown to be a dangerous combination.

  9. First off he didn’t say you can’t carry a gun. If it’s legal in the state/city you live – go for it. Just because it’s your right to openly carry doesn’t mean you don’t make others uncomfortable…it’s called sterotyping. Not your problem you say? Fine, then get used to be told where you can and can’t go when you show your gun. Conceal it and no one knows you have it – that includes the idiot who tries to walk in and take over the place. His request isn’t crazy – he’s keeping to his work on trying to keep his coffee shops a relaxed place. Pull your shirt over your piece or through on a jacket to cover it – how hard is that. Check your ego at the door, get a cup of joe and go about your day.
    And if your going to bask this policy- have the gall to sign your name – don’t hide behind username.
    ~matt johnson

    1. Well said. Open carry makes you a target anyway. I carry daily but it’s always concealed. No reason to give a criminal the advantage. We did this to ourselves by holding rallies at a private business uninvited. He is obviously trying to appease both sides but as a CEO that’s sort of his job. Lay off the camo pants and molle vest unless you are training or hunting. It’s like strapping a dead deer to your hood, you piss off the anti hunters and convert no one to our side.

    2. you make a valid point, matt, but mr. Shultz was calling for people to not bring a gun on premises, open or concealed. besides, how many states have open-carry laws? not many. personally, I wouldn’t open carry even if I could. why advertise to the criminal scum what you’ve got?

    3. Usually the guy that comes in and takes over the place has his gun concealed until he is ready to spring his trap!
      He is much less likely to spring his trap if he realizes that he is the probable victim of said trap!
      Where can I try to be more reasonable than this, does any one have a suggestion that betters mine!
      Not you O.J.
      Now will someone please start a new coffee shop chain that welcomes second amendment gun toting Americans? Then we will see just how good this works out for Star Bucks?

    4. Matt, my name is Glenn Hutchinson and I disagree with your comments, yep that’s my real name!
      I have a problem with people who make a living off working stiffs like me trying to dictate how we exercise our constitutional rights!
      If they don’t like what I am then why do they want me to spend my money at there business?
      Either fix it or forget it!

    5. …and NO MORE Muslims in there either. Those Muslims tend to make others “uncomfortable”.

      Sure, it’s their “right” to be Muslim, but a Private business can simply ask that they exercise that right elsewhere. While we’re at it, we need to “limit” Islam with “common sense laws” designed to curb violence, and we need a federal agency to monitor and police the Muslims.

  10. Some of you people that so hardcore over your gun rights need to set back and read the whole story instead of the first two lines. He says he wants your business but not the confrontations caused when anti-gunners see an open carry weapon. And rightfully so, since its not your business, he’s just asking you to be a little more discreet. Would it cause you death by lightning bolt if you showed him a little respect in his place of work? Most of the employees are young teenagers and likely most are anti- gunners simply because they’ve been exposed to guns in the wrong way by some form of violence associated with guns and they’re uncomfortable and afraid of them. So, bring your gun if absolutely need it for a pacifier, but keep it concealed so you don’t knowingly cause a debate in the coffee shop or the hardware store or anywhere in general. Just show a little respect for those who don’t want to have exposed guns in their presence.
    Shultz is a business man and you can’t blame him for wanting to keep the debates away from his business and keeping the money flowing in.
    Besides this, not carrying a gun is a choice which in some places in the world it isn’t! America is a place that still allows many freedoms and choice is one of them in many instances!
    So, can you be thankful for these freedoms?
    It’s a big country and having these choices makes us special in the world’s eyes!

    1. so “special” that the UN wants a de facto universal gun registration in this country. first step to outright confiscation.
      I believe it was Japanese admiral Yamamoto who said that invading the US mainland would be suicide because there would be a gun behind every blade of grass.

    2. So then they can go out and get on their texting machines and start their cars and kill multitudes on our highways!
      At what point will this crap stop?
      I can’t see where the anti gun crowd get their Wheaties!

    3. You state that, “he wants your business but not the confrontations caused when anti-gunners see an open carry weapon”. Well, that begs the question… what about the potential confrontations when those who are uncomfortable around Muslims see someone in obvious Muslim garb?

      Maybe we should ban Muslims from coffee shops, restaurants, hardware stores, and other public places where they might offend weak-minded people. Granted, they have a RIGHT to freedom of religion, but your argument is that “rights” are trumped by a customer’s right to not have their pink frilly panties twisted into a ball.

      Please advise…

      1. No one wants to touch this argument because you nail them with their own logic. Typically those opposed to the 2nd amendment rights are overly liberal when it comes to applying laws and logic to other constitutional rights like freedom of speech and freedom of religion. If we applied the same standard to all of our constitutional rights we wouldn’t have a problem.

      2. I had a debate with some liberals at a cookout a few weeks ago. They were spouting off about “common sense gun control” measures. I spun it around and applied their exact arguments to Muslims.

        I simply took their OWN rhetoric and arguments, substituted the word ‘gun’ with ‘Koran’, ‘gun owner’ with ‘Muslim’, etc… and suddenly they were stammering and arguing against their own policies and measures. When I asked them what the difference was, they really had no answers. It was PRICELESS.

        Liberals love to pretend that they somehow support the 2nd amendment “for hunting” and simply want to add safety measures. When confronted in this manner… they finally had to admit that it wasn’t about “safety” or “common sense”. They were FOR some rights and AGAINST others, period. This tactic quickly cuts through their BS and leftist rhetoric, and narrows the debate to the heart of the matter.

  11. We can only hope bad people with guns who wish to do harm will respect this request too. Somehow I do not think they will. Let us also hope that those same people will not purposely pick a Starbucks because they know it may be a “gun free zone” where they can maximize their carnage in order to go down in the history books and get lots of publicity for themselves and their terrible deed. I think Starbucks owes it to their customers now to post armed guards.

  12. That seems like a fine position to take. As long as they allow carrying, I think it’s fine for them to ask people not to have political events in their stores. These events are of questionable value anyway. I think it makes more of a statement to open carry and not make a big deal out of it. If we keep making a big deal out of it, other people will too. We want people to get used to the idea of law abiding citizens carrying guns, we want people to not view it as a big deal. So we have to stop making a spectacle out of it, and show people that being armed is a normal state for a lot of law abiding citizens.

    1. I think acceptance is a matter of where you live. by that I mean, even if open carry is lawful in your state, it’s not quite as appropriate in a metro area as it would be in a small, rural town. the people in these two locales have different mindsets.

  13. I proudly have a carry permit and from time to time I will use the privilege, carrying concealed. That said, however, open carry is often not the brightest option unless you are an LEO with a holster that prevents a ‘ grab and run’. Open carry can needlessly alarm others for no useful reason, and the training that was required for my permit was explicit on that point. There are locales where open carry is part of the culture, which is fine, but I’ll just keep my personal protection concealed.

  14. Open carry is one thing, however concealed carry means that no one should see or be aware that you have a gun. People need to learn to keep their mouth shut, it is not a bragging point, it is for your protection.

  15. I guess since I’m 59 years old I can piss some people off with my opinion about open carry!
    I have had a concealed carry permit since 1976 and so far my gun hasn’t harmed anyone. I have no wish to start harming anyone at this late state of my life, but if I decide to carry openly that is my damned business, not your’s
    I have a constitutional guarantee that I can do this and it is not up to you to decide if I can do this or not!
    Get a grip, some things are simply out of your reach, it is time for you to shut the hell up!

  16. Glenn H, I appreciate your stand on open carry. If you can explain to me why you need to open carry, it may settle my nerves a bit. Please don’t fall on our constitutional rights. I have those same rights to open carry here in New Mexico, if I feel it necessary. There are places I have felt the need for it. By the way, I turned 58 this month.

  17. Glad you made another gun free zone Shultz! I wouldn’t step into a Starbucks now if you paid me. Some nut will find it to appealing to open fire on your defenseless patrons…Stand up, be a man you wimp and rethink your gun ban HS and let those with brains enter your store armed…They could save your liberal ass!

    1. Liberal Gun Logic 101:

      – We can send HUNDREDS OF MACHINE GUNS to Mexican drug cartels and then sit back and watch them kill each other by the hundreds. SUCCESS! Who really cares, it’s (mostly) just Mexican punks killing each other, right?

      – We can send THOUSANDS OF MACHINE GUNS to Syrian militants and then sit back and watch them kill each other by the thousands. Another wild success! Who really cares, it’s (mostly) just Muslim punks killing each other, right?

      – Disarming Chicago and making guns illegal for the law abiding citizens was a “success”. Now only the gangs have guns, and Chicago is the muder capital of the USA. Gangs and criminals run rampant in the streets with NO FEAR of the populace being able to fight back. Who really cares, it’s (mostly) just black punks killing each other, right?

      All of these are liberal “success stories”. Notice how it’s perfectly okay to arm criminals and murderers, but NOT the law abiding citizenry. Notice how liberals don’t actually care about the violence… as long as those who get killed aren’t quite… WHITE? Strange how that works, hmm?

  18. I was never all that fond of Starbucks (I prefer Dunkins), but I did stop there from time to time for coffee.

    The CEO came originally out against licensed gun owners. And then he balked and pretended he didn’t. He minced his words to pretend he didn’t say what he originally said (sometimes you can’t make this stuff up).

    In any case, I’m DONE with Starbucks. If I have to travel an extra mile or two for my coffee (or skip it altogether), so be it. ANY company that goes against my rights will pay with the loss of my business… period… end of story.

  19. Mr. Shultz is taking a sensible approach for his business after being thrust into the middle of a very sensitive social issue. I only wish that more businesses would take this common sense approach rather than just posting a “No Firearms Allowed” sign on the door. Gun advocates, even though they are in the right, need to be less “in your face” about the issue if they hope to win the hearts, minds, and support of those in the public who are not gun owners, but vote nonetheless. For better or worse, many people are extremely uncomfortable around guns, and concealed carry satisfies the rights and sensitivities of most. Kudos to Starbucks for the way they have, so far, handled this situation. The continued “Right to Carry” will be decided in the court of public opinion, so we need to practice some diplomacy and moderation if we wish to keep the gains we have enjoyed in recent years. Scaring or offending the non gun-owners in our society is not the way to go about it.

    1. Chances are, someone who open carries has gone through basic gun courses and knows the law. They know how to use that gun and understand the safety aspect and go to the gun range and practice shooting. More than the general criminal.

  20. Shot marbles with a boy when I was a kid. If I won his, he always took them back when we were through. Other boys decided not to play with him anymore, and so did I. He didn’t loose anymore, but he didn’t win either. Marbles? What’s he talking about? I had a right to play marbles then, and a right to carry a gun now. And the other boy had those same rights, both then and now. So he wants to play gunslinger now, even though no one wants to play with him. He will not loose this fight, but he will not win it, either. We can play anytime and anywhere we want, but it doesn’t mean we have to make enemies. My Mom say’s “No guns in my house”, yet she bought my first gun for my birthday, when she knew I was old enough to respect it. She respects me, I respect her. Why can’t people respect those like Starbucks ?

  21. Starbucks nor any store, can control or create a law. The CEO understands he can’t prohibit it, since the law will not support him on it. Each state via the legislature writes and controls access or lack of access for gun owners and their rights. That is where our 2nd Amendment actions should be directed. Leave the CEO alone, he has not the legal authority to post a sign nor the legal means to enforce!!

    1. Actually, as a private business owner, they can, in fact, in many states dictate that their store is a gun free zone. If you choose to not obey their signage, you can be arrested for criminal trespass. While I don’t necessarily agree with these rules, each business/land/home owner has the right to decide the basic rules of their “house”. It is up to you to choose to go into the house or not.

  22. I don’t find anything offensive about this letter and it seems to be a reasonable position for a business man running a public company. My reading of it is that one can still carry concealed and, just like any other place, it’s nobody’s business whether I am or am not carrying so long as the gun is concealed. In open carry states like Arizona, most of the populace knows about it. In other states a little common sense instead of the provocative, in-your-face acknowledgement that some people, especially Starbuck’s customers, would go a long way toward improving our image. It’s a request, not a company policy and he says they’ll still serve customers carrying firearms and there won’t be outright bans on guns in their stores. I’m OK with that. I don’t buy coffee at Starbuck’s very often, but I admire the guy for at least taking a neutral position rather than over-reacting. What business wants confrontations between customer and/or employees. This just isn’t a big deal so long as customers with guns, openly carried or concealed, aren’t banned.

  23. Ewe! A gun! Sounds like ignorant people who see a spider or a snake and think it will kill them.

    Without guns to protect ourselves we are all doomed. History proves it….. Nazi Germany, early 1900’s Soviet Union, etc, etc, etc… Oh and let’s not forget the near future of the good ol’ USA…….

    You’re thinking Paranoid? It’s a good thing there were “Paranoid” people in the late 1700’s here in America who wouldn’t give up their guns…….

    Keep voting for Progressive Liberals and you will get “Heck” on earth……We’re almost there……..

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