“I Love Guns & Coffee” was the slogan for the Starbucks Appreciation Day open carry event, supported by thousands of people all over the country who visited their local Starbucks Friday.
Starbucks is a company that allows customers to openly carry handguns in states that permit it. However, anti-gun groups such as Connecticut’s Newtown Action Alliance, founded after last December’s Sandy Hook tragedy, spoke out against Starbucks’ policy and the social media gathering. Anti-gun group Mom’s Demand Action in turn also advocated the phrase “We Want Gun Sense with Our Coffee.”
An event’s Facebook page announced that “Starbucks is allowing us to lawfully carry firearms in their store. Recently, they have been the target of unjust attacks from certain groups that do not support our right to bear arms. We will thank starbucks for standing up for our right to bear arms by going there on Friday, August 9th.”
In 2010, the popular coffee chain stated its policy for gun laws and to this day it remains unchanged.
“We essentially have determined it’s best for us to comply with local statutes and communities that we serve and abide by the laws that permit open carry,” Jaime Riley, representative for Starbucks told Mint Press News.
In states where open carry is prohibited, guns are then not allowed within those Starbucks locations, but their policy has continued to be an example of public discussion and criticism surrounding gun law issues.
At a Starbucks in Plymouth, Minn., where open carry is legal with a permit, a customer who requested to remain anonymous says guns and coffee are “kind of an odd combination.”
A women with the man who also requested to remain anonymous supports open carry laws and gun ownership, but says, “I think you’d get quite an outrage if you saw a weapon, concealed or unconcealed at a coffee shop.”
The man recalled a recent visit to Chipotle when he saw someone with a gun.
“There was a guy, just a normal civilian, and he had his gun wide-open there for everyone to see and it made me very uncomfortable,” he said. “I support people owning guns, but as far as carrying them out on your day to day things, like a phone or anything else, no. It’s unnecessary.”
Of the 16 recorded mass shootings in 2012, one of them occurred at coffee shop in Seattle, Wash., a state that supports the Second Amendment with a permit, where one man opened fire and killed five people before himself, The New York Times reported.
On the issue of gun rights, Shae Roberts, a Starbucks customer accompanied by a younger girl, feels that conceal and carry is the best way because the sight of a gun in a public place is threatening.
“If there’s somebody sitting there with a gun,” she said, “Instinctively I would have my eyes on them. Because when people, kid’s especially, see somebody with a gun I think it’s scary.”
Both the man and women customers agreed that conceal and carry was a less threatening issue.
“To have it displayed,” the man said, “It puts people on edge even more so than they are now already.”
With open carry laws in Connecticut, supporters that were in Newtown Starbucks hit what is still a very sensitive note.
“Our community is still healing and we find it reprehensible that they are picking Newtown to rally,” David Ackert, a spokesman for Newtown Action Alliance told NBC. “It is disturbing to think that tomorrow night you and your children may be sitting in Starbucks when people carrying guns walk through the door.”
In the instance of a dangerous public situation, Roberts feels that if all areas were open carry, a violent person with a firearm might feel more motivated if they were confident knowing that there were no other guns present.
“It’s better if you conceal them because then they don’t know if somebody has a gun,” she said, implying that the mystery of someone else carrying a gun who could potentially defend themselves may prevent a violent person from attacking.
According to Riley, Starbucks was aware of Friday’s open carry event but did not have any part in endorsing it.
“We definitely hear feedback from both sides,” said Riley. “We are trying to remain bipartisan and just respect the local laws. We do encourage folks, customers and advocacy groups, to share their feedback with public officials because that’s where that dialogue needs to happen rather than at Starbucks.”