Read the Achieve 3000 article “Starbucks Under Fire” and complete the activity. Come back here to answer the following question (use the READ strategy to answer). The article is provided below for your review.
Summarize the opposing viewpoints regarding Starbucks’ policy on firearms in its stores, providing the rationale for both. Then, explain which line of reasoning you consider stronger, and why.
Support your response with evidence from the article, as well as ideas of your own.
SEATTLE, Washington. Dale Welch recently walked into a Starbucks in Virginia, handgun strapped to his waist, and ordered a banana Frappuccino with a cinnamon bun. Welch’s venture into the coffeehouse—which drew a double-take from customers but not a peep from the workers—was part of an effort by some gun owners to exercise and advertise their rights in states with laws allowing people to openly carry firearms. The Starbucks coffee chain, by honoring such laws, has found itself in the middle of a larger battle between the nation’s gun enthusiasts and its gun control advocates.
Forty-three states have instituted “open-carry” weapon laws. These laws permit gun owners to carry a firearm in plain sight when in public. In some of these states, businesses reserve the right to declare their premises (Links to an external site.) gun-free zones (just as stores have the right to deny service to barefoot customers). Starbucks, however, allows customers to carry guns in all states where it’s legal.
“A lot of dedicated consumers…have expectations that Starbucks would ban guns. And [where guns are legal] they aren’t,” said John Bruce. Bruce is a political science professor and an expert on gun policy.
In January 2010, gun enthusiasts in northern California began walking into Starbucks and other businesses to demonstrate their right to bear arms in open-carry states. Some of these demonstrations were spontaneous (Links to an external site.), with just one or two gun owners walking into a store. Others featured organized parades of dozens of gun owners walking into restaurants with firearms at their sides.
The scene is quite different at retailers that do not permit firearms—even in open-carry states—including California Pizza Kitchen and Peet’s Coffee & Tea. Both chains have faced political confrontations with gun owners. In one demonstration, about 100 activists bearing arms had planned to go to a California Pizza Kitchen in Walnut Creek, California. The activists went to another restaurant after it became clear they weren’t welcome at the establishment.
OpenCarry.org is a pro-gun rights group that encouraged the recent demonstrations. It applauded Starbucks for not discriminating against gun carriers.
“Starbucks is seen as a responsible corporation, and they’re seen as a very progressive corporation, and this policy is very much in keeping with that,” said John Pierce, co-founder of OpenCarry.org. “I applaud them, and I’ve gone out of my way personally to let every manager of every Starbucks I pass know that.”
But as pro-gun rights demonstrations spread to other states, gun control groups are quick to criticize the open parade of firearms in local stores. The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence circulated a petition that quickly attracted 26,000 signatures demanding that Starbucks “offer espresso shots, not gunshots.” The group is urging the company to change its policy. It wants Starbucks to declare coffeehouses as gun-free zones.
“[Starbucks is] putting their workers in harm’s way by allowing people to carry guns into their stores, especially open carry,” said Brian Mantel of the Brady Campaign.
Gun control advocates argue that allowing guns in stores intimidates (Links to an external site.) and frightens people. In addition, permitting firearms could threaten the safety of both customers and workers alike. Ralph Fascitelli works with Washington Ceasefire, an advocacy group that seeks to reduce gun violence. Fascitelli said allowing guns in coffeehouses robs residents of “societal sanctuaries.”
“People go to Starbucks for an escape, just so they can get peace,” Fascitelli said. “But people walk in with open-carry guns, and it destroys the tranquility (Links to an external site.).”
Officials at Starbucks stated that security measures are in place to avert any potentially threatening situation that might occur from allowing guns in stores. Starbucks also said it does not plan to change its policies regarding firearms, despite protests from gun control groups. To do so, the chain said, would be tantamount (Links to an external site.) to asking law-abiding customers to leave stores.
For now, Starbucks plans to continue with business as usual. The company has requested that both gun enthusiasts and gun control advocates refrain from putting the chain in the middle of the larger, divisive gun control debate.