A month after gun-rights activists gathered at a Starbucks in Newtown to commend the coffee shop's open-carry policy, the company has asked that customers no longer bring weapons into its stores.
"Starbucks Appreciation Day" was a controversial event in a sleepy town marred by tragedy, and the Newtown Action Alliance is grateful for the coffee company's request.
“This is truly an important and hopeful step on the road toward shifting the culture in American cities to one of peace and respect, and it is nice to be able to add them to the corporate responsibility resource page on our website,” said Newtown Action Alliance spokesperson Ashley Sheridan, in a statement. “While this is not a ban it is certainly a step in the right direction towards the social change that we need, in addition to the legislative changes that we are seeking in Washington this week after nine months of inaction.”
Company policy has historically allowed customers to bring guns into Starbucks stores, but today, CEO Howard Schultz published a letter asking patrons to refrain from doing so.
In the open letter, Schultz writes, “Pro-gun activists have used our stores as a political stage for media events… that disingenuously portray Starbucks as a champion of ‘open carry.’ To be clear: we do not want these events in our stores.”
The letter goes on to say that Starbucks is “respectfully requesting” that customers other than law-enforcement officers avoid bringing guns onto Starbucks property.
Schultz clarifies that this does not constitute an outright ban, and says Starbucks will not turn away customers who carry.
Sen. Richard Blumenthal also praised the coffee company for its new gun policy in the following statement:
“Starbucks has listened to its customers and conscience – and Congress should do the same. I commend Starbucks for heeding calls from concerned citizens across the country – part of the Connecticut Effect flowing from the Newtown tragedy. Coffee customers are no safer for carrying guns into Starbucks, or any other store or restaurant.”
Last month's Starbucks Appreciation Day in Newtown struck a nerve with some residents and prompted the store to close early.
Schultz isn't the first to respond to Starbucks Appreciation Day with an open letter.
Following the event, the Newtown Action Alliance, along with Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America and the National Gun Victims Action Council, published an open letter to Starbucks asking the company to ban guns in all its stores.
The letter was signed by state legislators, Newtown community members, Starbucks employees and family members of the children and educators killed during the Dec. 14, 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary.
Some of those family members joined the Newtown Action Alliance in Washington, D.C. today to lobby lawmakers and push for stricter gun-control legislation.