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Jon Talton

Analysis and commentary on economic news, trends and issues, with an emphasis on Seattle and the Northwest.

Topic: Starbucks gun policy

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September 18, 2013 at 10:18 AM

Starbucks teeters on the fence of the gun debate

The announcement by Starbucks Chief Executive Howard Schultz “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” — puts right-wing extremists in an interesting spot. On the one hand, they tend to be Second Amendment absolutists. On the other, they subscribe to “economic freedom,” usually a dog whistle for defunding the EPA, etc. but also presuming that business owners should be able to do as they please. Viva Ayn Rand!

Schultz’s letter was a model of care and fence-sitting. It’s a request, not a ban. I suspect the fence could be very painful for Starbucks’ backside. While most Americans probably don’t care, the gun lobby is extremely powerful and its base very energized. Polls show the country closely divided on more restrictive firearms laws, despite the rising body count from our continuing episodes of mass murder (that’s some American exceptionalism, for sure). President Obama’s modest reforms proposed after the massacre of children in Newtown, Conn., went nowhere after the National Rifle Association did its thing.

Now before you go off on me, I have been around firearms all my life. My mother taught me to shoot when I was eight. In the seventh grade, I took and passed the NRA Safe Hunter course. Somewhere I still have that treasured patch that was given out. Among the things I was taught: Always check to see if a gun was loaded and never to point it at someone, loaded or not. But that was a different America. I’m a gun owner now, but have no problem with sensible restrictions, including on assault weapons and extended magazines (memo to media: They’re not “clips” unless they go in an M-1 rifle).

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