In states that allow open carry for licensed gun owners,
Starbucks has refused to put up signs in protest - though some other
businesses have. Gun-control advocates have started a boycott, but
gun owners are answering with a 'buycott.'
When Starbucks started putting outlets on interstate off-ramps a
few years ago, it sent a none-too-subtle signal to America: Good
coffee isn't just for the high-brow crowd. Now, for the second time
in three years, it is reinforcing that point in a way that is
putting the chain at the center of the national debate about gun
laws in America.
In short, Starbucks won't prohibit customers from openly carrying
guns into its stores, at least in states that allow it.
On one hand, the stand is merely a reflection of law: 43 states
permit open carry. Yet other companies - such as Peet's Coffee,
IKEA, and California Pizza Kitchen all post signs against open
carry, even in states where it's allowed.
The ubiquity and popularity of Starbucks, however, makes the
chain a far more powerful symbol for both sides of the issue.
The National Gun Victims Council, which is leading the new
boycott, says Starbucks points to the need "to eliminate the risk of
guns in public places and ultimately to bring sane gun laws to the
US." Its boycott aims to "reduce Starbucks' stock price by an amount
no rational company would allow."
But gun-rights advocates are responding with a "buycott" to
support the chain.
The Brady Campaign Against Gun Violence attempted a similar
protest of Starbucks in 2010, but Starbucks' held firm. While it is
not clear what, if any, impact the protest had, Starbucks' earnings
rose by 17 cents per share in 2010, according to a report issued six
months after the protest began.
A Los Angeles Times report suggested that the most visible result
of this week's boycott was the contrarian buycott, which included
Ohio State University students rallying outside an Ohio Starbucks
holding signs, including one that said, "Because I CAN'T carry a
On Wednesday, Starbucks reiterated a stance it publicized in
2010. "As the public debate around this issue continues, we
encourage customers and advocacy groups from both sides to share
their input with their public officials," the company wrote in a
statement. "We are extremely sensitive to the issue of gun violence
in our society and believe that supporting local laws is the right
way for us to ensure a safe environment for both our partners
[employees] and customers."
A coalition of secular, religious, and gun-control groups backing
the boycott claim to represent 14 million Americans. …