In the wake of the recent firearms policy announcement by Starbucks, numerous gun rights advocates are reasonably upset. But I think they’re overreaching, reading too much into the policy and interpreting from it things it does not say.
Now first, Starbucks has a right as a private organization to set whatever policies it wants regarding firearms. They can turn every Starbucks into a gun free zone if they so desire. And that is what many are presuming Starbucks has done, but they haven’t.
Initially Starbucks said they will not have any firearms policies more restrictive than whatever laws are applicable. In response to this, they ended up attracting the attention of the open carry crowd in States where open carry is legal – I don’t frequent Starbucks so I can’t speak to any open carry activity here in Missouri. And with this attention, Starbucks was wrongfully brought into a policy battle it would rather have avoided. So Starbucks tried to do what they can to get out of that fight.
And the only way to get out of it was to disallow the people who had brought them into it. The policy change reads more as a "leave us alone, we want no part of your political squabble" than anything else. And the policy is easily targeted at open carry. Howard Schultz said this, according to the New York Times:
I want to make it very clear that Starbucks is not a policy maker and as a company we are not pro- or anti-gun. However, there have been a number of episodes over the course of the last few months that have put us in a position to take a big step back and assess the issue of open carry.
Now the policy is a little vague in its "no guns welcome" kind of language, making it sound like they don’t want CCWs either. But then when has a CCW (carrier of a concealed weapon) ever really been a problem? So long as you don’t see the firearm, there’s no need for anyone to be concerned. CCWs tend to not want to attract attention to themselves, and the idea of carrying concealed is to make it such that no one can tell if you have a firearm.
The one thing that open carry advocates need to understand is that the mere sight of that firearm will freak out a lot of people, and some may even call the police. You may also be legitimately detained, possibly arrested for causing a scene. Remember that "disturbing the peace" tends to be an arrest offense, along with "disorderly conduct", and open carry, even if completely legal under your State’s laws, may fall under either category depending on the circumstance.
Being callous and arrogant while carrying a firearm is no way to protect your rights, and the open carry guys who end up on YouTube after baiting police and scaring the public tend to be the callous and arrogant assholes the rest of the gun community and gun rights advocacy need to disavow.
Logistically open carry makes no sense whatsoever, and the only reason a person should open carry is if they cannot legally carry concealed. But if you can carry concealed, you should carry concealed, and open carry should not be considered an option.
So if you are a CCW, I’d say to continue going to Starbucks and continue to carry your firearm there. The policy already says they won’t confront people carrying firearms, but, again, when has a CCW ever really been a problem? Sure a case or two crops up now and again, but otherwise it’s not really a problem because the firearm is to be carried concealed and inconspicuous. So if you walk into Starbucks properly carrying concealed, you shouldn’t have any problem, and neither should Starbucks.
The troublemakers have virtually always been the open carry guys. And, rightfully so, they are the ones Starbucks doesn’t want coming around again. As for me, I’m not going to be frequenting Starbucks anytime soon simply because if I’m going to get a latte, I’ll prefer the local coffee company, The Roasterie.
And unfortunately for Starbucks this isn’t going away anytime soon. Both sides seem to want every company to take a pro or anti-gun stance, and that just isn’t right in my opinion…