Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, which formed in the wake of the Newtown, Conn. killings, is protesting the company's policy of allowing customers to bring guns into restaurants in “open carry” states, where residents are allowed to carry firearms in public.
“Starbucks calls themselves a progressive company but by not taking a stand on guns, they’ve become a rallying place for ‘open carry’ supporters," Shannon Watts, the organization’s founder, told The Huffington Post. The organization has named the boycott “Skip Starbucks Saturday" and plans on making it a regular event.
Starbucks spokesman Zack Hutson told HuffPost that the company encourages customers to voice their concerns to lawmakers, but it has no plans to change its position. “While we recognize there is significant and genuine passion surrounding the topic of open carry laws, our long-standing approach to this debate has been to comply with local laws in the communities we serve,” he said.
The world’s biggest coffee chain has now been used as a symbol of the gun rights debate by both sides of issue. Earlier this month, pro-gun rights organizers planned a rally at the Starbucks in Newtown, a few miles away from Sandy Hook Elementary School, where 26 people were gunned down last year. The chain closed the restaurant down early the day the rally was scheduled “out of respect to Newtown.”
But Moms Demand Action wants a stronger commitment from Starbucks. The coffee chain enacted a ban on smoking outside its restaurants, even though this is not required by law in many areas, Watts points out. “Secondhand bullets are far more dangerous than secondhand smoke,” she said. And other companies, including AMC Theaters and Buffalo Wild Wings, prohibit customers from carrying guns into their establishments.
In an earlier blog post published on The Huffington Post, Watts also noted that guns are banned at Starbucks corporate offices. “I am at a loss … as to why Starbucks values the safety of its corporate leadership so far ahead of the safety of their customers,” she wrote.
Moms Demand Action encourages supporters to sign an online petition that it plans to submit to Starbucks corporate leadership when it receives 25,000 signatures.