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Lawyers, guns, and coffee: Starbucks may have to kick gun lovers out

Starbucks re-opening, 2010.
Starbucks re-opening, 2010.
Chris Scott/Flickr.

Starbucks has gotten itself into the very definition of an awkward position, particularly in California. The coffee chain is being protested by an anti-gun group for looking the other way when practitioners of what's called "open carry" show up for meetings at Starbucks with their unloaded firearms.

Starbucks has said that it's just respecting the local laws. But there's speculation that 'Bucks is being used as a forum by the open-carry crowd to invite challenges to its rights (they're even come up with a gun-weilding Starbucks alterna-logo that probably horrifies Howard Schultz). And of course Starbucks' core demographic isn't as friendly to the Second Amendment as the core demo of the National Rifle Association.

So Starbucks has a business problem. Gun advocates and gun haters both like coffee. Why would you want to choose between groups?

Well, primarily because the vast majority of customers and potential customers aren't interesting in packin' heat while they enjoy a nonfat caramel latte. Of course, it's going to be difficult for Starbucks to roll back the clock on this one. You can imagine scenarios in which gun advocates refuse to vacate a store, or in which a Starbucks employee has to "exercise the right to refuse service for any reason." 

But it's not too hard to see where this is headed. Starbucks will discourage those loyal gun-toting customers from patronizing the establishment. And where will they go next? Dunkin' Donuts? McDonald's? The Second Amendment isn't going away. So neither is this problem.

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