Frappuccinos and firearms

Guns are always a hot topic and have been recently linked with the Pacific Northwest’s favorite hot beverage. Starbucks has unwillingly become involved in a heated debate between a growing open carry movement across the country.

Guns are always a hot topic and have been recently linked with the Pacific Northwest’s favorite hot beverage. Starbucks has unwillingly become involved in a heated debate between a growing open carry movement across the country.

Recently, www. and the anti-gun Brady Campaign have been at the center of this debate.

Gun enthusiasts in California and Washington, among other states, have been testing their rights to openly carry guns in public places by walking into local businesses, sometimes in groups, with guns strapped to their hips. Concealed weapons carried by individuals with permits do not have the same intimidating effect, but many gun proponents believe these permits are too difficult to obtain. Perhaps this is their way of protesting.

It would seem that chain restaurants and coffee shops have become some kind of strip mall danger zone and people don’t feel safe unless they are armed, but that is not the case, it is a symbolic protest. The Open Carry Web site slogan is “a right unexercised is a right lost.” This practice is quite alarming to unarmed patrons, and businesses are caught in the middle. Anti-gun patrons may feel that the growing presence of guns has made them feel less safe, while the gun carriers feel safer. What is a business to do?

According to the Associated Press, open carry enthusiasts in Walnut Creek California caused California Pizza Kitchen and Peet’s Coffee to change their policy and ban guns from their establishments after 100 armed activists attempted to enter the two businesses. Starbucks remained neutral on the issue, deciding instead to just follow the law. If it is legal to carry a gun in the state, it is legal to carry a gun into Starbucks, and this has lead to the controversy.

A giant successful corporation like Starbucks undoubtedly tries very hard not to anger either side of an issue such as this because they will potentially lose business from one side or the other, but in this case, remaining neutral has caused anger among gun control advocates. The Brady Campaign delivered a petition requesting “espresso shots, not gun shots” with 28,000 signatures to the coffee giant’s Seattle headquarters two weeks ago according to the Seattle Times.

In a March 3 press release, Starbucks asks all involved parties to refrain from putting them in the middle. But if you go on either or, Starbucks is center stage. It seems they are going to have to take a side. If they do nothing, they are essentially taking the side of the pro-gun movement.

For those of us uninterested in owning and seeing guns, it is very intimidating to be next to someone in public who is obviously packing. Many people would choose to go to Peet’s Coffee over Starbucks if they knew they could avoid this unpleasantness. On the other side of the coin, Starbucks could become the coffee shop of choice for gun culture, but somehow, it doesn’t seem like that is what they are going for.

In Oregon, it is legal to openly carry a firearm, yet the city of Portland has banned firearms in public places. Businesses are private property and it seems they have the right to ban firearms on their property without violating the second amendment. Coffee shops and restaurants are not war zones and there is no reason that your grande frappuccino needs to involve a deadly firearm.

Gun advocates seem to think their rights are in jeopardy and are flexing their constitutional muscles, even though gun laws recently seem to be following a trend of getting more lax. New gun laws just took effect regarding national parks, making it legal for licensed gun owners to bring them into the parks.

According to Newsweek, the liberal organization, the Constructional Accountability Center, is on the side of pro-gun conservatives in the current Supreme Court case McDonald v. Chicago. The case is attempting to prove that Illinois’ ban on handguns is unconstitutional.

Gun rights are not in any immediate danger. President Barack Obama has even failed to follow through on stronger gun regulation as spoken about in his campaign. In this climate, groups of gun toters openly carrying firearms while dining out or getting coffee probably does more harm than good to the pro-gun movement. This radical behavior is unfounded.

Open firearms are extremely intimidating, and just because you can carry one is not a valid reason to do so at such unnecessary moments. Going to get coffee is not dangerous and does not warrant such protection. Good thing businesses can prohibit such practices, and hopefully Starbucks and others will follow in the footsteps of Peet’s and California Pizza Kitchen.