A Way to Force Sane Gun Laws -- Boycott Starbucks

HARTFORD, CT - FEBRUARY 14:  A man holds up a sign with with a depiction of an assault weapon during a rally at the Connectic
HARTFORD, CT - FEBRUARY 14: A man holds up a sign with with a depiction of an assault weapon during a rally at the Connecticut State Capital to promote gun control legislation in the wake of the December 14, 2012, school shooting in Newtown on February 14, 2013 in Hartford, Connecticut. Referred to as the 'March for Change' and held on the two-month anniversary of the massacre in Newtown, Connecticut, participants called for improved gun safety laws. Among the safety measures being demanded are for universal background checks, more work within the mental health community and restricting high-capacity magazines. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Despite its reputation for global consciousness and socially aware customers, Starbucks is actually a huge ally of the NRA by welcoming lethal weapons in its stores. By refusing to ban guns from its premises as it is allowed to as a property owner, Starbucks facilitates gun proliferation and the gun lobby's stated goal of universal armament of citizens at all times in all venues.

While forward-thinking corporations like California Pizza Kitchen, Peet's, IKEA and Disney banned guns from their premises when presented with a petition from the Brady Campaign with 33,000 signatures over a year ago, Starbucks refused. Among the guns Starbucks openly welcomes into its coffee shops are the FN Herstal 57 (which enabled the Fort Hood shooter to fire 100 bullets in 10 minutes, killing 13 and wounding 30), the Glock 19 used by Jared Loughner against Rep. Gabby Giffords and the AR-15 of Aurora and Newtown fame. Thank you, Starbucks.


In response to a 2012 campaign called the Brew Not Bullets Boycott, Starbucks said, "We believe that supporting local laws is the right way for us to ensure a safe environment for both our partners [employees] and customers." But "local laws" clearly allow businesses to prohibit firearms on their property and other companies are clearly doing it. Worse, Starbucks admits the risk to its employees and customers by banning guns at its Starbucks' corporate headquarters. Why should only senior management be protected? Gunshot accidents have already been reported in Starbucks stores.

Starbucks' stance has earned it unexpected support from gun lovers, though they are not its traditional customers. Starbucks is "a Seattle-based, trendy, slightly artsy-crafty chain to begin with, but they have correctly assessed that they're now in middle America and they don't want to offend the sensibilities of middle America in order to pacify a few left-leaning gun-control supporters," said Paul Valone, director of Grass Roots North Carolina about the boycott, according to the Christian Science Monitor.

But most see the opposite situation -- a few, fear-based extremists obsessed with amassing more and bigger weapons and creating a society in which everyone is armed. "If you're someone who is feeling the need to tote around a gun everywhere, ask yourself, 'What it is you're so afraid of,' not, 'Which other pointless location can I suddenly feel the need to be armed?'" wrote Christian Science Monitor reader Lynn Gleason.

According to Elliot Fineman, CEO of the National Gun Victims Action Council (NGAC), we are at the "secondhand smoke" moment in the gun debate -- the moment when people realized that smokers endangered everyone not just themselves and they were no longer tolerated. When corporations and consumers stood up to Big Tobacco and banned smoking in stores, restaurants and public spaces, laws soon followed.

As of March 7, 2013, 9,721 former Starbucks customers have renounced Starbucks' products both at coffee shops and in supermarkets. At an average expenditure of $21.58 per week per former customer or $1,122 per year per, that represents an annual loss of $10.9 million to Starbucks.

An estimated 100 million people want sane guns laws and only one million do not, says Fineman. That means that consumers have the numbers to move both corporations and lawmakers and force sane laws like they did with second-hand smoke. People tolerated smoking in public, says Fineman, until the dangers of secondhand smoke were revealed. Gun proliferation is more dangerous to children and innocent bystanders than secondhand smoke. Why do companies like Starbucks and lawmakers ban public smoking while allowing... lethal weapons?