Op-Eds Speaking Truth to the Powers-That-Be
Starbucks has taken the stance of welcoming customers with concealed carry weapons into its stores, even when other large chains have posted required signs requesting that they remain outside of their establishments. Our managing editor, Brian Ross, wrote to Starbucks to ask that the signs be posted. Their response, and his reply:
Thank you for contacting Starbucks.
Thank you for your feedback regarding Starbucks’ policy on open carry laws.
At Starbucks, we deeply respect the views of our customers and recognize that there is significant and genuine passion surrounding the issue of open carry weapons laws. We comply with local laws and statutes in the communities we serve. Our long-standing approach to this issue remains unchanged and we abide by the laws that permit open carry in 43 U.S. states. Where these laws don’t exist, openly carrying weapons in our stores is prohibited.
As the public debate around this issue continues, we encourage customers and advocacy groups from both sides to share their input with their public officials. We are extremely sensitive to the issue of gun violence in our society and believe that supporting local laws is the right way for us to ensure a safe environment for both partners and customers.
Thanks again for writing us. If you ever have any questions or concerns in the future, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.
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Please pass this along to whomever in corporate would seem to care: The reason you should create a safe space at Starbucks also meets the corporate wallet.
Open carry is an insurance/liability nightmare.
The law in those 43 states clearly allows carry. It says nothing, however, about the tort liability of the places where those guns are used.
Starbucks assumes, along with the NRA-paid representatives who put this ALEC-canned bill into law in those states, that all of the people with these concealed carry weapons are sane, rational, “law abiding” gun owners.
The law would be fine if the assumption were true. Post Sandy Hook, I run the American Gun Victims Wall, a national daily digest of shootings and homicides. I’ve seen every story for months. Thousands of them. We’ve cataloged the causes. Most shootings are domestic in nature, or the result of mental impairment, either through substance use or some mental defect, like rage, bipolar disorder, etc. Not robbery, or rape, the two most claimed causes that concealed carry holders use to justify packing a personal pistol.
The shootings that we see in retail establishments such as yours, other than the occasional back-door robbery, which is rare, are most often fights that escalate into shootings, where the shooter(s) lack the common sense to take the argument outside, or the situation escalates too quickly, or a revenge/jilted person shooting of opportunity.
If someone is shot at, collaterally everyone else in the restaurant is at risk.
Further, if one of your welcomed Rambos, acting to “defend” the rest of your patrons, produces their concealed carry permitted weapon in one of these circumstances and draws, the likelihood that your defender is trained well enough in crisis situations to respond with lethal force that will actually hit the person with the weapon on the first shot is unlikely.
Collateral damage is a very real and extremely likely consequence of the discharge of a weapon. It is one of the reasons local law enforcement agencies aren’t fond of concealed carry. If police are dispatched, it also increases the likelihood that a concealed-carry customer could be dropped by the police reacting to the situation, further compounding already tragic circumstances.
None of these concealed carry laws indemnify Starbucks or its franchisees from civil liability lawsuits. Which is why the legislatures in most of these states gave retailers the out when they allowed them to restrict weapons in their establishments by posting a notice: The sign removes the civil liability for you, the retailer.
So what Starbucks is doing is really above and beyond the law of the land in these places. It is an endorsement of the right to concealed carry. That would be fine if there were laws in place to do mental health checks and take guns temporarily out of the hands of people with Temporary Restraining Orders, or who suffer from severe clinical depression, but there is no compensating law for that.
With no filter to weed out dangerous people holding guns in public, the lack of “leave it home” signage increases risk to your patrons, and Starbucks’ civil liability.
Your company is banking on the math that the few locations they have in high conflict neighborhoods, and the potential damage that will be caused by gun violence is statistically small and that pandering to gun owners is a bigger “win” in terms of attracting customers, and perhaps even luring a few away from Dunkin’ and McDonalds, many of which ban guns in their establishments.
The problem is that, especially with your high profile stance on guns, you are attracting more cowboys and crazies, people taking photos next to your signs in the store flaunting that they are packing. Add in the Stand Your Ground laws of many states, which by your logic you also endorse, and you have increased the actuarial likelihood of an incident at Starbucks.
Starbucks only gets one shooting. It will more likely happen in a suburban or rural location. It will likely be domestic, and someone with depression or rage issues, or an accidental discharge. The lawsuit or two may not be that financially damaging, but the bad PR from it will be epic.
Along with coffee you sell community places where people can gather, talk, work away from home, relax. One discharge of a weapon at one store, and that goes away in every one of your locations.
Starbucks is endorsing concealed carry when it does not use the “out” written into these laws to prohibit concealed carry in its stores. You spend countless hours looking at safety issues for employees and customers to reduce your insurance risks. Certainly if you can recognize the dangers of a wet floor, or a broken chair, you can do the actuarial math for the dangers of people carrying weapons in your stores.
The Huffington Post