On Friday, it was “Gun Owners Support Starbucks Day” all across Virginia, according to gun rights activist Ed Levine, the founder of Virginia Open Carry.
Levine organized the event or ‘buycott’ not because the Seattle-based java giant is pro-Second Amendment, but because it has – like Switzerland since 1815 – remained neutral in the contentious debate over gun control.
Unlike some of its competitors, Peet’s Coffee for example, that have posted “No Guns Allowed” signs in states that permit law-abiding citizens to carry concealed firearms for self-defense outside the home, Starbucks has made the conscious decision to remain apolitical, to simply follow local laws.
In a statement that was issued on Wednesday, a Starbucks spokesman Zack Hutson told The Washington Post that the company’s “longstanding position is to comply with local laws in the communities we serve.”
“We think that’s the right way to ensure a safe environment for our partners,” he added.
Hutson, who also spoke to POLITICO, said that they “deeply” respect people on both sides of the issue and encourage customers and advocacy groups to share their opinions with public officials.
“We deeply respect the views of our customers and recognize that there’s significant and genuine passion surrounding open carry weapons laws,” Huston told POLITICO. “We’re extremely sensitive to the issue of gun violence in our society.”
To Starbucks credit, gun control advocates have not made it easy for them to remain neutral. On several occasions, organizations like The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence have made Starbucks the target of a national boycott.
In fact, as reported by the CS Monitor, efforts to boycott Starbucks are still ongoing, the latest is being led by the National Gun Victims Action Council, a Chicago-based pro-gun control organization.
On its website, group issues an ALERT that reads, “Starbucks policy permits customers to carry loaded guns in its stores — even though they know that gun carriers put their employees and customers at risk. HOWEVER, to keep senior management safe, guns are banned at corporate headquarters.”
In part, this NGVAC boycott is what prompted Levine’s coalition of gun owners to organize the ‘buycott,’ as he told a local CBS affiliate, “Some anti-gunners wanted citizens such like myself kicked out of Starbucks for carrying a gun and Starbucks said, ‘Hey, we’re here to sell cakes and coffees.’”
As Levine told the reporter, the fact that event fell on 2/22 wasn’t a coincidence, that it symbolizes the group’s support for the Second Amendment. Going along with that theme, Levin encourages patrons and activist to tip using $2 bills.
“I’ve got a pocket full of $2 bills that signify the Second Amendment,” Levine said. “We tip them and we show them we support them, supporting us.”
And as far as Starbuck’s apolitical philosophy is concerned, Levine believes that more companies should follow suit.
“Other businesses should learn from Starbucks. They should simply let the states where the stores are deal with the laws — if you make and sell coffee, do that and don’t get involved with the gun laws,” Levine told POLITICO.
So, saying all that, the question remains, is Starbucks pro-gun by default? By staying neutral is the world’s largest coffee chain actually embracing gun ownership? Thoughts?