The request was made today in an "open letter to Americans," about a month after gun rights activists targeted the chain with "Starbucks Appreciation Days" — including one in Newtown that drew heavy scrutiny — in support of the chain's stance permitting open carry in its stores (in states where open carry is legal).
The closest Starbucks locations are:
- 500 South Broad Street, Meriden
- 412 Cromwell Avenue, Rocky Hill
- 3575A Berlin Turnpike, Newington
- 1090 Silas Deane Highway, Wethersfield
"To be clear: we do not want these events in our stores. Some anti-gun activists have also played a role in ratcheting up the rhetoric and friction, including soliciting and confronting our customers and partners."
Schultz said the announcement is a "request, not a ban," and added employees would not be asked to confront patrons with guns in the store.
"[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," wrote Schulz.
“Starbucks has listened to its customers and conscience — and Congress should do the same. I commend Starbucks for heeding calls from concerned citizens across the country — part of the Connecticut Effect flowing from the Newtown tragedy," U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) said. "Coffee customers are no safer for carrying guns into Starbucks, or any other store or restaurant.”Starbucks spokesperson Jaime Riley said the company did not intend to fall on either side of the gun debate, which was sparked anew in the wake of the Dec. 14, 2012, shooting at Sandy Hook School that left 20 children and six educators dead.
"We’re not anti- or pro-gun, we just believe that weapons should not be part of our coffeehouse experience and that most of our customers and partners (employees) would be much more comfortable without them in our stores," Riley said. "We will not put our partners in the uncomfortable position of enforcing this request, but we are being clear that weapons are not welcome in our stores."
Starbucks representatives said the coffee chain adheres to state and local open-carry laws in its stores. In August, a "Starbucks Appreciation Day" at the Newtown branch on Church Hill Road drew controversy and national media attention. After the store closed early, activists on both sides of the firearms debate gathered in the rain and maintained a presence outside.
The open letter will also run as a print advertisement in national newspapers Thursday, including the New York Times, USA Today and the Wall Street Journal.
The Newtown Action Alliance, an organization pushing for stricter gun laws in Connecticut and across the country, commended Starbucks for the move.
"This is truly an important and hopeful step on the road toward shifting the culture in American cities to one of peace and respect, and it is nice to be able to add them to the corporate responsibility resource page on our website," they said in a statement.