Gun Rights Advocates to Rally at Starbucks Cafes

Aug 9, 2013

A brewing controversy surrounding gun rights is headed to Starbucks locations today.

Gun rights advocates around the country are planning to rally at Starbucks cafes where they’re allowed to openly carry firearms. But a group of moms is trying to pressure Starbucks to stop allowing guns in its cafes.

Kate Beck calls herself an accidental activist. A mom with two kids, she said after the Newtown shootings, she had to do something. A few weeks ago, Beck and several other moms took their protest signs to an open carry meet up, at the Starbucks café on First and Pike.

“We walked up and we didn’t want to have a confrontation with them. So we stayed on the other side of the street, and this was downtown Seattle, and they were just standing there with their guns,” she said.

Beck is the Washington chapter leader of the group Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America. She says Starbucks is a progressive company known for banning smoking outside stores. Which is why she just doesn’t get why Starbucks won’t budge on this issue, especially in light of an accidental shooting at a Florida store earlier this summer.

“And they have a choice. They don’t have to allow open carry in their stores—they don’t allow open carry at their national headquarters—and they’ve become kind of the poster child for the gun enthusiasts,” said Beck.

There does seem to be a coffee culture among gun enthusiasts here. Jim Childers owns Whidbey Arms, a gun shop on Whidbey Island. He also sells bumper stickers and hoodies with a parody of Starbucks’ mermaid logo, toting guns. He says the open-carry rallies aren’t meant to intimidate.

“In that open carrying we’re showing people, ‘Hey, you know there are responsible people that do carry a gun, that have a gun and are responsible members of the community,’” he said.

A Starbucks spokesman said the company’s long-standing approach is to follow local laws. In contrast, Peet’s Coffee, Toys "R" Us, and Target have all banned open displays of guns.