What? People are packing at Starbucks? Who knew? You mean, the nervous, close-talking guy behind me in line for his third grande-whatever wasn’t just glad to see me, he was actually carrying a gun in his pocket?
Somehow I missed the Valentine’s Day launch of a Starbucks boycott protesting pistol-packing patrons. I usually start my days on MSNBC watching Morning Joe, which used to be “Brewed by Starbucks”, with Joe Scarborough, Mika Brzezinski, Willie Geist and a cast of Starbucks-caffeinated politics junkies. If Mika had tried to mention the Starbucks boycott and was, as usual, drowned out by former Gingrich Congressman, Redneck Riviera Frat Boy Joe Scarborough, it had escaped my notice. Maybe I was too busy being irritated with Joe.
News of the boycott arrived via snail last week. It came in a renewal reminder from the Episcopal Peace Fellowship (EPF), and it included a nifty storefront sticker (pictured at left), “Gun Free Zone,” for me to share with my local small business. [Transparency Disclaimer: I have been a supporting member of this organization for the past two years.]
Amid the speculative torrent of vigilante justice stories about George Zimmerman and his alleged victim, Trayvon Martin, I admit to an elevated level of interest in our nation’s patchwork quilt of gun laws. Florida’s so-called “Stand your ground” law has been especially troubling to me, in light of the 911 recording and the dispatcher’s instructions to Zimmerman that he not continue his pursuit of the young African-American man wearing the hoodie.
But a boycott of Starbucks over their acceptance of “concealed carry”? No way. I have a family member who manages a Starbucks in San Diego. Could it be? Is she and her staff unknowingly serving caffeine to gun-hiding patrons? Say it ain’t so, Morning Joe.
Imagine how clueless I felt as I read the EPF renewal letter:
“While states have rightfully forbidden weapons inside taverns for decades, Starbucks is alone among major retail outlets in allowing customers to bring their gun(s) – open or concealed – into its coffee shops,” said the Rev. Jackie Lynn, executive director, in the Episcopal Peace Fellowship (EPF) press release. She continues:
“We know guns and alcohol don’t mix. Why allow guns and caffeine? We stand with the National Gun Victims Action Council, the Fellowship of Reconciliation and many other groups working to reduce gun violence in the United States,” (the EPF) Rev. Lynn added.
According to EPF’s Bob Kinney (email@example.com), “Despite numerous pleas to ban weapons in Starbucks, the iconic Seattle-based coffee giant upholds the National Rifle Association’s (NRA) pro-gun agenda, which was stymied most recently by a conservative U.S. federal judge in the Northern Panhandle of Texas.”
Yes, improbable as it may seen, even the Texas U.S. District Court Judge Sam Cummings – who, according to Texas Civil Rights Project director James Harrington, is one of the most conservative judges in the state of Texas – ruled against the request of three NRA-backed Texas minors to get a concealed weapon license even though the plaintiffs were under 21-years-old.
When the boycott was launched, supporters of the right to carry guns in public organized and went to Starbucks locations to support the coffee company’s pro-gun policies. According to a report in the Los Angeles Times:
‘Those who prefer to drink their lattes packing protection on their hip turned out at Starbucks across the country on the first day of a “buycott” organized by gun owners — countering the Starbucks boycott called this week by the National Gun Victims Action Council.’
The likelihood of the conflict going away after a little time seems low, according to supporters of the boycott at EPF: ”The multi-faith and secular boycott will continue until Starbucks forbids weapons in their coffee shops, noted now for a mellow ambiance within a favorite meet-up spot, and casual web-surfing without the fear of saying the wrong thing to someone packing a Glock pistol who is at a neighboring table and finishing her third espresso, the Rev. Lynn said.”
I’ll acknowledge, I’m a little ambivalent about boycotting a family member’s current source of income, but I am certain I don’t want her co-workers to be at risk for a java-jiving customer. As I picture that customer, the lyrics of Paul Simon’s “My Little Town” come to mind, “Twitching like a finger on the trigger of a gun.”
As I boycott this coffee giant, I will spend a few minutes writing to the company, to explain why. Maybe a few more messages from customers will change their decision.
Window stickers supporting a “Gun Free Zone” are available at EPFNational.org. Donations are welcome, too, for their Starbucks boycott and for many other global peace initiatives.