But when the Starbucks’ CEO Howard Shultz requested — not demanded, mind you, but requested — that people visiting his coffee shops please leave their guns outside, much as saloon-keepers did in the days of Wyatt Earp, rightbloggers threw a fit.
This bizarre story goes back to 2010, when gun advocates started walking into Starbucks outlets located in open-carry states with their guns ostentatiously out, just to show they could do it.
Why Starbucks? Probably because if they let you flash your gun at Cletus’ Bait Shop and Chaw Depot, it’s not news, but if the hippie-dippy Starbucks lets you, it’s man bites dog. (As a commenter to a related story at Breitbart.com grunted approvingly, “Kind of weird. Anti-gun liberals are their main customers, sitting around having their phony, ‘intellectual’ discussions.”)
In some cases, the gun advocates got mild pushback, which they seemed to consider a provocation. As KING5 News reported in October 2010, for instance, one Tom Brewster had been asked by police for ID when he came packing to a Spanaway, Washington Starbucks (“I carry [a gun] in the open because I have nothing to hide”), and though the cops let him alone once he’d shown it, 35 of Brewster’s buddies later came back with their own guns, just to show everyone how harmless a bunch of resentful people with weapons can be.
This seems to have been part of a strategy — get in trouble for your gun in a public place, return with armed backup to show everybody you have right. “Two weeks ago five patrons at a Madison, Wisconsin restaurant were cited for disorderly conduct for openly carrying holstered handguns,” gun rightsblogger Jeff Soyer of Alphecca wrote that same month. “…Today, Wisconsin Carry, Inc. is planning a “Meet and Greet” at the Starbuck’s in Ashwaubenon, WI…”
The practice attracted attention, as the practitioners apparently had hoped it would, and the chain eventually issued a delicate statement, saying that “while we deeply respect the views of all our customers” on controversial gun issues, “Starbucks’ long-standing approach to this issue remains unchanged. We comply with local laws and statutes in all the communities we serve. That means we abide by the laws that permit open carry in 43 U.S. states.”
This cheered the People of the Gun, and they started having “Starbucks Appreciation Days” to further publicize their wonderful new gunman-hostage relationship with the coffee shops. Here, for example, a gun bulletin board poster announces one set for Valentine’s Day 2012: “There is no open carry in SC. Which really REALLY REALLY sucks. But, I will be leaving early enough to grab a coffee, and maybe…” Though it sounds like a suicide note, no incidents were reported. (Top rightblogger Instapundit also noted the event, adding later, “Starbucks should be rewarded for refusing to bow to bigots.”)
On August 9, 2013, the People of the Gun, perhaps deciding the sheeple were ready to hear their message loud and clear, held a much better publicized “Starbucks Appreciation Day.” This one had a big Facebook page, lots of attention from Fox News affiliates, and a great news hook: One of the brandish-ins would be held in Newtown, Connecticut, site of the Newtown massacre — you know, that gun bloodbath in 2012? Oh, you don’t remember? That’s okay, there’ve been so many. Anyway, some of the brethren thought it’d be neat to celebrate and flash guns at the place where 26 people were slaughtered by them.
To normal people this might seem in terrible taste, to say the least, but these are cold-dead-hands types we’re talking about, so rightbloggers wished them godspeed: “If you need a Friday afternoon pick-me-up and support your right to carry a firearm, head over to Starbucks,” wrote Katie Pavlich at TownHall. “This had the usual crowd of activists up in arms,” laffed Jazz Shaw at Hot Air, and isn’t that what matters — not ordinary decorum in a shattered community, but pissing off stupid libtards? And with guns yet! Why, it’s almost as good as shooting them.
The brethren posted photos of themselves posing cheerfully with guns drawn at coffee shops.
One fellow videoed himself going to Starbucks with a rifle. “I wanna thank Starbucks for their position supporting the Second Amendment, I appreciate it a lot,” the guy told the baristas, who kept their heads down and continued working on his order, hoping their families knew that they loved them. Some cops came in and gently urged the gun guy outside to ask if he’s trying to provoke some kind of reaction with his brandishing. “No, sir,” said the cowboy, “we do this for educational purposes.” This being Texas, an open-carry-and-then-some state, and the gunman being white, there was nothing the cops could do thereafter but wait for the hail of bullets, but thankfully our hero was in educational rather than mass-murder mode, and collected his order without incident.
At this point Starbucks CEO Shultz seemed to want to stay out of the controversy more than ever — “I’m not a politician,” he pleaded to the press. “I run a coffee company and we’re trying to abide by the laws in which we do business” — and when the gun guys showed up in Newtown, that Starbucks branch closed early. Maybe they thought it was a decent compromise, though some of the brethren were pissed, per the Washington Times: “‘I came here to support Starbucks for supporting the Constitution,’ Dom Basile of Watertown told a local CBS affiliate. ‘Now, they’re not supporting us.'”
By and large, though, there was no reason for the brethren to consider it anything but a triumph; for, like the Battle of Chick-fil-A — the 2012 anti-gay demo which only required right-wingers to show up at fast-food restaurants — there was no way to measure how many gun nuts were among Starbucks’ patrons, so it could have been a kabillion for all you know, therefore we win. Plus which, they could be sure they’d made an impression on those folks in the Starbucks who saw them come in, and anyone else within firing range.
Sill, Connecticut’s two Democratic Senators, who may have heard from constituents about the gunplay, complained about it. So did other anti-gun groups, and some of them even threatened to boycott Starbucks, but since they didn’t have guns drawn no one paid attention to them.
As you may recall, if the NRA hasn’t already scrubbed your memory of it, last week there was another big mass shooting at Washington D.C.’s Navy Yard. This may have moved Shultz to issue another extremely timid, yet differently shaded, statement on September 17, the day after the shootings, which basically said again that anyone who could legally bear arms could bear them in Starbucks, but that Schultz rather hoped they wouldn’t.
“We appreciate that there is a highly sensitive balance of rights and responsibilities surrounding America’s gun laws,” wrote Schultz, “and we recognize the deep passion for and against the ‘open carry’ laws adopted by many states.” But “pro-gun activists have used our stores as a political stage for media events misleadingly called ‘Starbucks Appreciation Days,'” he went on, “that disingenuously portray Starbucks as a champion of ‘open carry’…”
Trying even harder to be what we suppose someone like Chuck Todd would call “fair,” Schultz also complained that “some anti-gun activists have also played a role in ratcheting up the rhetoric and friction, including soliciting and confronting our customers and partners.” See, both sides are equally to blame! But still, Starbucks was “respectfully requesting that customers no longer bring firearms into our stores or outdoor seating areas…” He hastened to assure patrons “this is a request and not an outright ban,” in part because he was “not comfortable” with a situation that would “potentially require our partners to confront armed customers.” (We bet those partners wouldn’t be comfortable trying to eject a guy with a gun, either, and not for political reasons.)
So, Shultz had made the most cringing request possible — in fact, had said that if gun nuts didn’t honor his request to behave as he preferred in his own stores, nothing would happen to them.
Nonetheless the brethren were upset at his assault on their liberties.
“Unfortunately, Starbucks has relented to public pressure,” said United Liberty.
“I was willing to go out of my way to throw Starbucks business they would not have ordinarily gotten because they were not giving in to the bullying by anti-gun extremists,” said Sebastian of Shall Not Be Questioned. “…But Starbucks has decided they no longer want my business, and I will take it back to Dunkin Donuts gladly. Their coffee is better anyway.” (Later in the same post Sebastian wrote, “We have to be prepared to take our money elsewhere, and mean it. If Starbucks does not quickly reverse this policy, I’m done with them.” Ooops! Guess someone was lured off the reservation by Banana Walnut Bread!)
The Washington Free Beacon did a round-up of Facebook posts called “Starbucks Irks 2nd Amendment Supporting Customers.” “Bye Bye Starbucks,” one such ex-patron wrote. “I’ll support small business instead of your corporate dictatorship and take my money to the little locally owned coffee house where they know me by name.” Another told Starbucks, “You have lost an annual revenue of over $1,500,” this fellow will be getting his rage-fuel elsewhere. The article mentioned that “Starbucks stock trading under the symbol SBUX was down .032 in early trading, after closing at $76.04 yesterday.” See, tea patriots? You can make a difference!
“Guess I won’t be going there anytime soon,” claimed The Right Scoop. “I guess they don’t want gun owner business,” hmmphed Say Uncle. “Because that is what will happen. They never really got my business except a couple of times because I don’t like to pay excessive prices for mediocre coffee.” (Wicked burn!)
“[Schultz] lies when he says he is not anti-gun,” hollered Warner Todd Huston at Wizbang. “…If he’s saying he wants gun owners not to carry their guns anymore, then his desired ban of guns cannot be construed as anything but anti-gun. Henceforth, all true Americans that support the U.S. Constitution should refuse to patronize Starbucks coffee shops.”
“McDonald’s, Dunkin’ Donuts to Gun Owners: Hey, We Respect Gun Laws,” reported Leah Barkoukis at TownHall. The other fast food joints had “gun neutral” statements — that is, more like Schultz’s earlier ones. “Up until this week, gun owners celebrated Starbucks’ neutral gun policy, and increasingly came to use the coffee shops as gathering places,” said Barkoukis. “Now it looks like they’ll be frequenting Starbucks’ competitors a bit more often.” See? There’ll be consequences if you aren’t nice to the guys with the guns.
“Starbucks Against the Second Amendment?” asked Scared Monkeys. That was just a rhetorical gambit, of course: Their answer was, Starbucks pussy no guns aargh blaargh. “Starbucks claim that they did not want to get involved in the open carry gun debate, yet they just did,” said Scared Monkeys in his best Junior Debate Club manner. “…When a company sides with one side of the debate and restricts the other, that is the definition of taking a side.” Quidditch game, set, and match! Then Scared Monkeys really brought it: “I wonder,” he mused, “how many Starbucks employees would be thankful if some one legally carrying a gun actually saved them during a commission of a crime?” Next week, Scared Monkeys will wonder: if he rescued Princess Leia from an Imperial Storm Trooper, would she let him touch her boob?
Speaking of dorks, now for the libertarian position: Josh Featherstone of Indiana Libertarian seemed to understand that showing up at Starbucks with weapons was provocative, but “of course, the anti-gun advocates leaped out in response,” he reasoned, and that’s where the trouble really started: “The gun owners were having their open carry events, and the anti-gun crowd was bound and determined to have their rallies at the same places and at the same times. Suddenly, Starbucks’ locations everywhere were being turned into political battle grounds.” You see how it is: Proponents came with guns, opponents came with flyers — clearly both sides are in the wrong.
Another thought experiment came from Cam Edwards at Rare. “With all due respect to Mr. Schultz, I’ve been unsettled and upset by some of the piercings I’ve seen on my local baristas,” he wrote. “I’ve been unsettled and upset by the sight of a very large woman in very small yoga pants.. I understand that when I enter your store, I’ll likely be coming in contact with lots of folks who make different lifestyle choices than I do. It’s cool with me. But if you truly want folks to be respectful of others as citizens and neighbors, you might start by not asking gun owners to go quietly back into the closet as long as they’re in your stores.” See? He’s not asking your pierced, fat-hippie customers to go “back into the closet” (get it? That means gay). So why can’t he whip his piece out in your store without having to remember that someone once asked him nicely not to?
“If I were Howard Schultz,” speculated Edwards, “I wouldn’t have tried to extricate my company from the debate. I would have instead embraced the chance to play a positive role. I would have invited local pro-gun and anti-gun activists inside to formally debate in Starbucks shops across the country on certain evenings, instead of demonstrating outside on a weekend.” Think what a draw that would be! Come for the latte, stay for the angry nuts!
In Jennifer’s Head announced her own boycott. “I patronized your business for one purpose and one purpose only,” she told Shulz, “to offset any potential losses you may have faced due to an anti-gun sponsored boycott of your stores.” Imagine how many millions of customers went to Starbucks for the same reasons.
Some of the brethren wanted you to know that they were the real victims here.
In a post called “No dogs or Irish…” View From the Porch compared Starbucks’ attitude toward “me and my kind” to, it would appear, old Brit bigotry toward the Irish (“We don’t want to cause a stink or make a scene; we just don’t like Irish people that much. But we’d still appreciate their money”). Why not use the more compelling example of racial segregation in America? We can imagine a few reasons.
Lorraine Yapps Cohen of the San Diego Examiner lamented that “customers of liberal persuasion have the freedom to walk away, but don’t. The liberty to leave does not compute among progressives.”
Allahpundit of Hot Air thought the lesson here was, “unless your business is designed to be overtly conservative, staying on the left’s good side is usually in your economic interest even if it means alienating righties. Imagine how many wedding-industry professionals have learned a lesson from stories like this one to extend their services to gay couples, whether they have an objection to gay marriage or not.” Making you accept business from homosexuals! Next they’ll make you sell to black people.
“Starbucks’ CEO Doesn’t Fear Guns. He Fears Liberals,” declared Sonny Bunch at the Washington Free Beacon. “…Look, here are the facts of life, my conservative friends: We don’t do the politicized life particularly well… The left, however, does the politicized life exceptionally well. They mount campaigns to pressure corporations to get what they want. They organize boycotts.” They don’t bring guns to get what they want, but really, who’d feel threatened by that? Anyway, conservative delicacy is “why you’re losing the culture,” Bunch told his comrades. “It’s why Howard Schultz doesn’t fear you. It’s why Howard Schultz will never fear you.” Maybe it’s time to bring something stronger than guns. Bazookas?
The idiocy is never complete without some Republican politician getting involved, and sure enough Louisiana State Rep Jeff Thompson declared, “The home of the most expensive cup of coffee is apparently now the home of one of the most dangerous as well… You won’t find me in Starbucks… not when I know they openly try to make villains out of law abiding citizens who own guns…” etc.
Meanwhile NRA President Wayne LaPierre was on TV the day of the Navy Yard memorial — boy, do these guys have a sense of timing or what! — to explain that the solution to mass shootings is more rather than fewer guns. He did not speak to the Starbucks issue, though Dana Loesch did appear at an “NRA News Cam & Co” interview to blame Schultz’s decision on “the cougars for gun control… a bunch of women who got bored drinking box wine in the driveway.” But then, why should LaPierre dirty his hands with this? The folks in the trenches have it all covered. Maybe soon a bunch of the boys will get together and pick another fast food chain to favor with their armed custom. We really hope it’s Pinkberry.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on September 22, 2013