Thrust into the middle of a debate they had no intention of fighting, it all started when java conglomerate Starbucks refused to ban guns from their stores this past winter. However, both sides have used Starbucks as a focal point for addressing pro-gun rights and pro-gun control stances. Finding themselves smack in the middle of this controversy, Starbucks is being pulled by both sides.

The issue originally began when the Brady Campaign requested that two California businesses – California Pizza Kitchen and Peet’s Coffee and Tea – ban guns in their stores. These two companies complied, and when the Brady Campaign decided to aim higher, Starbucks refused to join their cause. In response, many gun activists, including the organization Open Carry, have been frequenting and meeting in Starbucks stores nationwide to show their support for the coffee giant.

An online petition resulted with the Brady Campaign saying they were representing Starbucks customers, as they garnished 30,000 signatures that supported open carry restrictions. The group cites that Starbucks claims they promote ethical buying practices yet they are, in fact, being socially irresponsible by promoting open carry laws and regulations. They claim their company mission statement does not correspond with their current stance on open carry regulations in stores.

Starbucks simply says it is not getting involved in the issue and supports judicial laws related to open carry regulations and is not imposing their own store standards and requirements.

The Million Mom March, run by president Heidi Yewman, released a statement that accused Starbucks of violating customer and public trust by supporting open carry laws in their stores. She further stated this was a violation of employee and community trust.

However, Starbucks refuses to give into the controversy and hype surrounding the Brady Campaign’s efforts to bully them into changing their existing practices and endorsement of local laws.

In response, gun advocates held a “Starbucks Appreciation Day” in February, as a gesture of support towards Starbucks for supporting and defending the Second Amendment. Starbucks has earned the deep appreciation of gun-toting activists nationwide, being somewhat of a “safe house” for the gun support movement.

While Starbucks corporate statements say they “adhere closely to local, state and federal laws,” the true fact remains that many areas allow retail businesses to enforce their own gun policies. Starbucks, on the other hand, has made a stand that acknowledges citizens’ rights to open carry.

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