Starbucks wants its customers leave their guns at home.
The coffee retailer’s CEO, Howard Schulz, released an open letter on Wednesday imploring customers to voluntarily refrain from bringing their firearms to store locations — including outdoor seating areas.
“First, this is a request and not an outright ban,” Schultz wrote. “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.”
The request was made in light of what has become known by gun enthusiasts as the annual “Starbucks Appreciation Day,” when gun-rights proponents visit Starbucks stores en masse with their firearms in plain sight. The most recent event, on Aug. 9, placed the coffee retailer in the middle of the country’s gun-rights debate.
“To be clear: we do not want [Starbucks Appreciation Day] events in our stores,” the CEO stated. “Some anti-gun activists have also played a role in ratcheting up the rhetoric and friction, including soliciting and confronting our customers and partners.”
Up until now, the company’s policy was to allow guns at their stores in states where the “open carry” of firearms were legal. “Open carry” laws are currently legal in 24 states, including those that don’t require a permit or license such as Alaska, Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, South Dakota, Vermont, Kentucky and Virginia.
“For those who champion “open carry,” please respect that Starbucks stores are places where everyone should feel relaxed and comfortable,” Schultz said. “The presence of a weapon in our stores is unsettling and upsetting for many of our customers.”
(Editor’s note: Howard Schultz’s venture-capital firm, Maveron, is an investor in TheWrap.)
Watch a video message from Schultz below: