by Brian Hickey
News feeds rang loudly with the Starbucks request of its customers to no longer carry firearms in their stores.
In an open letter released to the public, Starbucks CEO, Howard Schultz, made a very controversial request: “…Today we are respectfully requesting that customers no longer bring firearms into our stores or outdoor seating areas—even in states where ‘open carry’ is permitted—unless they are authorized law enforcement personnel.”
He touched on many points, such as the “open carry” debate becoming increasingly uncivil, and how both those for and those against concealed weapon rights were using Starbucks as a media stage.
This infuriated Americans who found it a direct violation of their constitutional rights while others felt it was a step in the right direction.
Schultz however made it expressly clear that it was a request and not a ban, and he felt a ban would cause employees to confront armed customers, something he was not comfortable with.
“For those who oppose ‘open carry,’ we believe the legislative and policy-making process is the proper arena for this debate, not our stores,” Schultz said in his letter. “For those who champion ‘open carry,’ please respect that Starbucks stores are places where everyone should feel relaxed and comfortable. The presence of a weapon in our stores is unsettling and upsetting for many of our customers.”
At VSU’s Starbucks, baristas had their own opinions on the request.
“I wouldn’t feel safe,” Rachel Robertson, senior chemistry major and Starbucks barista, said. “I feel (it makes us) more prone (to robberies).” Robertson feels that the combination of firearms and Starbucks’ high prices could possibly lead to violence.
This was not a feeling expressed by another employee working at the on-campus location.
“Honestly I would be fine,” Lindsey Wilson, freshman general studies major and Starbucks barista, said. “If they’ve got it, they’re licensed to have it, and they have to pass a test so that means they know what they’re doing.”
With the recent updates to Georgia House Bill 29, which aims to remove prohibitions against carrying a firearm on post-secondary institution campuses, it’s possible that guns will be allowed on VSU’s campus.
Though America is up in arms on whether to follow Starbucks’ “open carry” request, the company isn’t the first nor will it be the last to take a stance.