SEATTLE - After allowing people to openly carry guns in Starbucks, CEO Howard Schultz has changed his mind.
Gun control is a heated topic across the nation, and Seattle-based Starbucks has been thrust right into the middle of the debate.
But Schultz is hoping to take his coffee chain out of the debate.
Schultz is asking gun owners to keep their weapons out of his stores.
In an open letter that will run in national newspapers Thursday, Schultz wrote:
"...we've seen the 'open carry' debate become increasingly uncivil and, in some cases, even threatening."
"...we know we cannot satisfy everyone...we believe the legislative and policy-making process is the proper arena for this debate, not our stores."
Over the last few years, Starbucks' policy allowing people to openly carry guns in their stores, where it's legal, has been celebrated by gun advocates.
But Schultz said they have "disingenuously" portrayed the company as "pro-gun.”
He said he had to do something about the issue because it's made many customers and employees uncomfortable.
While Starbucks is requesting customers not to bring guns, they are also not creating any policy outright banning weapons.
So far, 73 Seattle businesses however, have joined the “Seattle Gun-Free Zone” in banning firearms from their properties.
Sedat Uysal, the owner of Café Paloma, said he was one of the first to join and put the “No Guns” sticker on his store window.
He said that at first, some people called to say they would boycott the business.
Then, “We had other people coming in and mentioning that we’re here because you put the stickers up. We would like to support you.
He said he feels this policy creates a safe environment for his customers.
“We are a friendly and peaceful place. And I’m sure it’s going to bring more peaceful, friendly people here,” he said.
Gun owners in Seattle don’t necessarily have a problem with that.
“Private business. Their rules, not ours,” said Benjamin Widdowson, a gun owner. He said that will definitely respect their request, even though it is not an outright gun ban in the stores.
“The second amendment is part of the country’s birth, but it stops when you go onto somebody else’s property and that applies to businesses as well,” he said.
Local attorneys explained to KIRO 7 that state law allows businesses to set any lawful and reasonable conditions of entry, as long as the conditions don’t discriminate against a certain type of people.
There's a lot of passion about this issue on KIRO 7’s Facebook page, which is blowing up with comments for and against.
One poster said, "I've removed Starbuck's from my "likes" on FB, uninstalled the smartphone app and will no longer buy their products. Will ask for my money back on the Starbucks card I bought a little while ago but if won't refund it that's the last money they'll get from me."
Another wrote, "Just as we have the right to bear our arms, businesses also have the right to refuse service. If we feel the need to make a statement, we should do so in an educated & positive fashion. Carrying a handgun in your pocketbook is not the same as strapping a rifle to your back."
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