Anti-Gun Group to Launch Nationwide Boycott of Starbucks

Patrick Burke | January 26, 2012 | 7:42pm EST
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Starbucks coffee symbol(s). (AP Photo)

( -- The National Gun Victim’s Action Council (NGAC) will lead a national boycott of Starbucks Coffee products on Valentine’s Day, Feb. 14, to try to change the company’s “open carry” gun policy at its locations. Starbucks currently allows guns to be openly carried by patrons in its stores in the states where it is legal to do so.

“Starbucks allowing guns to be carried in thousands of their stores significantly increases everyone's risk of being a victim of gun violence," said Elliot Fineman, CEO of the NGAC in a statement. "Open and conceal-and-carry are among the reasons there are 12,000 gun homicides each year in the U.S.”

The NGAC further stated that Starbucks has the legal right to ban guns from their coffee shops but the company “clings to this policy that puts millions of Americans at risk every day and encourages the spread of guns being carried in public.”

The NGAC says that its boycott will, “90% of the time,” reduce Starbucks stock price.

“Open Carry” policies in 49 states permit citizens to carry guns in holsters where they are visible to the public, while “concealed carry” policies also permit citizens to arm themselves in public, but only if the weapon is not visible to others.

In February 2010, organizations such as the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence urged Starbucks to implement a new anti-gun policy. The Brady campaign collected signatures on a petition to pressure Starbucks into banning guns from its stores, and protested on-site at the Starbucks annual shareholder meeting in March.

At that same meeting, a handful of Starbucks shareholders subsequently voiced concern over the “open carry” policy and asked why the policy was not being changed.

The Brady Campaign’s efforts were unsuccessful because Starbucks did not change its policy.

Open-carry customer with coffee. (AP Photo)

Dave Workman, communications director of the Citizens’ Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms, said in a phone interview with that the revenues of Starbucks increased during and after the Brady Campaign’s attempt in 2010 to force Starbucks and other businesses to adopt more “anti-gun” store policies.

“That attempt didn’t really gain much traction, and in the subsequent financial reports for about a year, Starbucks reported increased profits at their stores,” said Workman. “That indicates to us that not only are people not as worried about legally armed private citizens that may or may not be in their midst – they enjoy a good coffee product.”

“Its [the boycott] been tried once and it failed,” he said.  “And these organizations are trying to coerce businesses like Starbucks to become something of their surrogates in promoting social prejudice against legally armed citizens.”

According to the NGAC’s Web site, Starbucks’ gun policy makes it a supporter of the pro-gun lobby’s agenda but as a large corporation the coffee-selling business has the potential power to be a major proponent for gun safety.

“As a major player in corporate America, Starbucks could be a leader in promoting gun safety—it chooses not to be—Starbucks chooses to support the NRA’s Pro-Gun Agenda,” said the NGAC, with CRO Fineman adding, "Starbucks’ steadfast support of the NRA's lethal pro-gun agenda damages its 'socially conscious company' brand.”

In response to media coverage surrounding its unchanged policy, Starbucks issued a press release in March 2010 prior to the shareholder meeting that the right of citizens to arm themselves was a governmental matter and has nothing to do with its stores.

Inquiries to Starbucks by were not answered before this story was posted.

“We comply with local laws and statutes in all the communities we serve,” said Starbucks in the 2010 statement. “That means we abide by the laws that permit open carry in 43 U.S. states. Where these laws don’t exist, openly carrying weapons in our stores is prohibited. The political, policy and legal debates around these issues belong in the legislatures and courts, not in our stores.”

Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz said at that same shareholder meeting, “Over the last 39 years, we have not changed any policy that we’ve ever had with regard to this issue. … We’ve yielded on the side of the law for 43 of 50 states. That’s where we thought we should be.”

Starbucks has been in business for over 40 years since its founding in Seattle, Wash., in 1971. According to its Web site, the company operates more than 17,000 retail stores in over 55 countries.  Its mission is described as follows:  “to inspire and nurture the human spirit – one person, one cup, and one neighborhood at a time.”

During the fourth fiscal quarter of 2011, Starbucks reportedly earned total net revenues of $3 billion, and recently finalized plans to establish locations in India.

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