Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz Takes A Non-Stand On Guns

Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz Takes A Non-Stand On Guns

The old saying goes, “When you try to please both sides, no one will be happy.”

Welcome to the club, Howard Schultz.


The Starbucks CEO wrote an open letter, posted on the company’s website, to Starbucks patrons.  In it, he stresses that Starbucks does not make gun policy, but he is requesting that people not bring guns into Starbucks stores (unless they are in law enforcement).

This was probably the most important part of his letter:

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.

When this news about the letter came out, my husband (an open carry advocate) read it and said to me, “People are pushing their luck with these stunts.”

Since we live in the Seattle area, where Starbucks is headquartered, I feel like I can understand both sides of this argument.  Where open carry is allowed, Starbucks has opted to follow local laws and allow the open carry.  This has earned them cheers from the open carry crowd.  But some in that crowd have taken it too far, and are taking great glee in freaking people out by openly carrying in a Starbucks.

On the other hand, there are the hoplophobes.  If you are unfamiliar with the term, hoplophobia is the coined term for a fear of weapons, simply because it is a weapon.  Seattle is full of hoplophobes.  I have good friends, who are good conservatives, who absolutely flip out at the idea of a gun in the hands of someone other than law enforcement.  And if concealed carry worries them horribly, open carry is cause for a near-panic attack.

In my opinion, Starbucks is tired of being the battleground where the open carry crowd runs into the hoplophobes.  The employees are tired of having to deal with either irate or upset customers on both sides of the issue.   They just want out of the fight.  Schultz is trying to split the difference, make his store neutral, and ask for civility on the issue.  In trying to not pick a side, he made this kind of a silly exercise in public relations.

Of course, he’ll end up making no one happy.  Both open carry advocates and gun control advocates are upset with his letter – many vowing to never set foot in Starbucks again, until Starbucks agrees with their position.

Starbucks is a private company.  They can make their own rules.  And the customer has a choice.  No one is forced to buy coffee from them.  If this request of “please don’t fight in our stores” clashes with your conscience, then there are lots of other places to get coffee.  In the meantime, I will still get the occasional cup at Starbucks (I can’t go more than two blocks before tripping over one), but my concealed carry permit is in my wallet, too.

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