Written an Open Letter to Starbucks

starbucks-logo_holding_gunsI will be posting an open letter response to this recent open letter from the CEO of Starbucks (also available via their website http://www.starbucks.com/blog/an-open-letter-from-howard-schultz/1268):

An Open Letter from Howard Schultz, ceo of Starbucks Coffee Company

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.

Sincerely,

Howard Schultz

 

Dear Howard Schultz,

Myself, and my fellow firearms carrying friends are very disappointed with this recent change in your policies. I understand that your organization has been put in an unfortunate position over the past few years. Those of us who value our lives (and the lives of others around us) who choose to be able to protect that God given life were simply enjoying coffee, when others chose to find those means of protection alarming.

When those who do agree with the ability to defend one’s life began to throw stones at your organization, those who were grateful for your “hands off” position attempted to show our gratitude for your common sense policy. You were not stating that you were pro self defense, or anti self defense, but that you would simply abide by the individual policies in each state.

Therefore, in the past few years, my husband and I, and many of our friends who do not frequent Starbucks purposely went out of our way to spend money at your organization, as a way to say “thank you.” We did not turn this into political activism, we simply understood the value of spending our money where our basic human rights are respected. During these visits for coffee and delicious snacks/pastries we did not cause a problem, we smiled friendly placing our orders, gave our money, and left.

For an organization that seems to champion controversial issues, stating that you accept all matter of lifestyles, it is unfortunate that you would chose to reverse this common sense policy due to pressure from only one side of the argument.

I do appreciate the way that you worded your request, you communicated it respectfully and logically. I understand that you believe that you are trying to gracefully exit a position that you were forced into.

It is also heart wrenching what drawing this line in the sand means for you. Criminals target those areas that loudly proclaim themselves to be gun free zones, look no further than recent news to understand that. You have essentially made all of your patrons sitting ducks to attacks, and vulnerable to evil in the world. Since you have taken away their means for protection, are you willing to develop an alternative? For example, would you be willing to post an armed guard at each Starbucks to protect them?  Since your decision to not welcome armed citizens, this is the dilemma that you have created.

I sincerely wish the best for your patrons and your company, but will no longer be going out of my way to purchase your products due to this policy change.

Sincerely,

Erin

 

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