Seattle, WA, United States (4E) – The CEO of Starbucks has asked patrons not to carry guns and for gun owners to stop holding “appreciation day” in their stores in a bid to get the café chain out of the political debate over gun rights.
Howard Schultz aired the request through an open letter to media outlets on Wednesday. The request was not prompted by the deadly shooting rampage at the Washington Navy Yard, he said.
“We’re not pro-gun or anti-gun,” Shultz said, according to Bloomberg Businessweek. “We want to give responsible gun owners a chance to respect our request.”
Schultz said weapons inside the stores are unsettling and upsetting many customers. But he clarified that guns are not being banned in stores because they don’t want employees confronting gun-carrying customers. Patrons with guns will still be served and not asked to leave, he said.
Also, Schultz said he does not want “Starbucks Appreciation Day” held in the stores by gun-carrying customers, who want to thank the coffee shop for tolerating them. The event, he said, portrays Starbucks as championing “open carry.” He said carrying guns in public in full view is uncivil and sometimes threatening.
Last month, a Starbucks in Newtown, Connecticut closed on the day pro-gun activists were to stage a rally in the outlet because residents got upset. The town was the scene of a deadly shooting rampage in an elementary school in December.
Family members of victims from the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School also published an open letter urging Schultz to ban guns in all Starbucks outlets.
Schultz declined to answer question if he owns a gun or not saying it is irrelevant.