Welcome to Common Gunsense

I hope this blog will provoke some thoughtful reflection about the issue of guns and gun violence. I am passionate about the issue and would love to change some misperceptions and the culture of gun violence in America by sharing with readers words, photos, videos and clips from articles to promote common sense about gun issues. Many of you will agree with me- some will not. I am only one person but one among many who think it's time to do something about this national problem. The views expressed by me in this blog do not represent any group with which I am associated but are rather my own personal opinions and thoughts.
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Monday, August 12, 2013

Guns in Starbucks, again

Several years ago a group of folks who care about keeping loaded guns out of public places where families gather for daily activities decided to start a campaign to boycott Starbucks stores. This group is the National Gun Victims Action Council. The reason? Starbucks is one of the popular coffee shops that has decided not to post signs to ban guns on their premises. I have written often about the incidents of loaded guns carried by "law abiding gun owners" discharging in Starbucks stores here and here. These incidents, of course, highlight that guns don't make us safer in public. Indeed, guns are dangerous weapons designed to kill people. They should not be carried around in public places. I have referred my readers to the Ohh Shoot blog which highlights all of the stupid and dangerous accidental discharges by law abiding citizens with guns. I have written before about permit holders accidentally discharging guns in public places (and here, and here, and here and here and others,  sometimes causing injury and even death. I have referred my readers to the Conceal Carry Killers study of the Violence Policy Center.

But never mind. The gun rights extremists think we should all just get used to their guns, carried openly or concealed with their claims that guns make us safer. They are wrong, of course, but the facts don't matter when you are an ideologue trying to make a point.

Take the ill timed decision of the gun rights community to have a "gun appreciation day" at Starbucks stores across the country. One of the places chosen for people to show up with their loaded guns was the Starbucks in Newtown, Connecticut. Raise your hand if you remember what happened in Newtown, Connecticut on 12/14. Right. From the article:
The nation’s gun owners declared Friday Starbucks Appreciation Day, but in Newtown, Conn., not everyone seemed very appreciative.
Instead, the local Starbucks closed five hours early, disappointing some gun owners who had planned to show up wearing holstered pistols to make a statement in favor of gun rights and Starbucks’ policies.
The event had already infuriated many residents still reeling from the murder of 26 children and educators at Sandy Hook Elementary School in December.
A sign at the coffee shop read: “Out of respect for Newtown and everything our community has been through, we have decided to close our store early today.”
Earlier, however, more than two dozen gun rights supporters, some wearing pistols, camouflage or Connecticut Citizens Defense League T-shirts, showed up to show their support. The company said it had no participation in the event. Gun critics also turned out to voice their opposition.
Long after the store shut down around 4:30, people on both sides of the gun divide stayed outside in the heavy rain, the gun supporters standing on the left, many smoking cigarettes, and the gun opponents to the right, holding lighted candles.
“Little do these ignorant people know that we come in here every day for coffee, carrying our weapons,” said Tom Catalina, 64, of Newtown. “Starbucks has always been open about their support of the Second Amendment and our right to carry, whether open or concealed. Guns make people safer.”
The anti-gun crowd wound up getting their coffee and doughnuts from Dunkin’ Donuts down the road, and passed out pins that read, “Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America.”
One of them was Barbara Kraushaar, 62, who lives around the corner from the home of Adam Lanza, the gunman who killed the students and school employees at Sandy Hook on Dec. 14. “Hey! Did you know you’re not allowed to smoke on Starbucks property?” she yelled to one of the men carrying a gun. “You don’t care about anything, just what pertains to you!”
The man walked away a bit but did not put out his cigarette.
Tears started streaming down Ms. Kraushaar’s cheeks. “How can they even think of being here?” she asked. “It is so ‘In your face!’ It’s plain disgusting and heartless.”
Clueless.

In your face.

Disrespectful.

Disgusting.

Why?

Apparently these folks have a false belief that showing up with their loaded guns is a way to show support for the Constitution. According to this article in the Hartford Courant:
"I traveled down here to support Starbucks for supporting the constitution," said Dom Basile, 51, of Watertown, "only to find that they have closed their doors to me and put up a sign insinuating that I am disrespectful and insensitive."
A notice had been taped to the front door: "Out of respect for Newtown and everthing our community has been through,we have decided to close our store early today.
Nothing in the U.S. Constitution says that citizens have a right to carry loaded guns into public places. Indeed, even Justice Scalia recognized, in the Heller Supreme Court decision, that the right to "keep and bear arms" may or may not extend to public places. But the facts don't matter to these folks. They are full of the corporate gun lobby talking points because that is what sells guns. Follow the money. Profits matter. Starbucks stores may be starting to feel the affects of their corporate policy to allow loaded guns inside. Follow the money.

None of this had to happen, of course. At least this one Starbucks store had the common sense to understand that leaving their store open and vulnerable to the whims and nonsense from gun rights extremists was a bad idea. Starbucks corporation recognized the absolute lunacy of letting people carry loaded guns carry at the Newtown Starbucks store. Where are rights for the victims to be free from seeing people with guns hang around at an establishment in their community? They are just beginning the healing process after 12/14. People are not ignorant about gun toting people and their desire to flash their guns in our faces in the aftermath of one of the nation's most horrific mass shootings. These folks have shown up at gun violence prevention rallies with their guns as well. They think they are making a point. The point is that we don't want your guns around where we have our kids and grand kids while eating out or having a cup of coffee. We don't want guns with our pizzas and coffee. We don't think you will protect us from some rare shooting at a place where we hang out because we know you can't and you won't. We know that 4 police officers, armed of course, couldn't protect themselves from being shot by a deranged gun man in a Tacoma, Washington area coffee shop. There have been very few examples of an armed citizen stopping a shooting in a public place.

Instead, what we want is to keep people who shouldn't have guns from getting them in the first place. Instead, we want fewer people to carry guns in public places instead of more. How will we know the difference between an armed "law abiding citizen" and an armed domestic abuser who shouldn't have a gun? How will we tell the difference between an armed "law abiding citizen" and an armed felon? We won't. Normalizing the carrying of guns is simply not the answer. If it was, we wouldn't have the largest number of gun deaths per capita of any other civilized country not at war. Those countries have strict gun laws and don't allow people to carry guns around in public. Those laws give a message loudly and clearly. Guns are dangerous. Fewer people should own them and carry them. If they own them, they have to go through strict background checks and procedures in order to do so. Why? Because these countries care about the number of citizens who die senselessly from gun homicides, suicides and accidents. They care about their national public health and safety. In America, we don't allow people to smoke inside of places where we gather. Why? Because we have decided that second hand smoke harms people. It is just common sense.

Isn't Starbucks sensitive to these American national tragedies? Hasn't the corporate world figured out yet that loaded guns inside do not make their businesses safer? Some of our nation's worst mass shootings have occurred in places of business. Accent Signage. Omaha shopping mall. Too many others to highlight. These shootings take place in "gun free zones" and loaded gun zones alike. Does anyone remember the first annual "gun appreciation day" where 6 accidental shootings took place at gun shows around the country? I do.

Starbucks doesn't allow smoking inside. Guns? Allowed. Most places don't want people inside without shoes or shirts. Why? Apparently they care about cleanliness and decorum. Guns? Sure, come on in. This just plain does not make any sense. It's time for Starbucks to examine not only what they put in their lattes but what they allow in their stores. It's time for them to post signs letting customers know that it's not OK to carry guns inside. It's time for Starbucks to do what other coffee shops and restaurants do. From the linked article to the National Gun Victims Action Council:
The Brady Campaign presented a petition to Starbucks with 33,000 signatures requesting they ban guns from their premises.  NGAC’s founder made the same request to the Starbucks Board. Unlike California Pizza Kitchen, Peets, IKEA and Disney (to name a few), they refused to do so.
Starbucks’ pro-gun policy on open carry makes it an active supporter of the gun lobby’s agenda to put more guns in more places in American life—and it must stop.
My friend Heidi Yewman from the state of Washington got involved in the Starbucks policy to allow openly carried guns a few years ago. It created quite a fuss at the time. Guys with loaded guns came to intimidate her. Here is more about that:
When they complied, the group aimed higher, asking the same of the most powerful name in coffee. Starbucks refused, citing existing safety procedures, but the Brady Campaign persisted. Gun-toting activists, many of them aligned with the organization Open Carry, had also been meeting in Starbucks stores.
"We didn't choose Starbucks," Malte insisted. "Open Carry chose Starbucks."
An online petition the organization circulated this month to demand Starbucks "do the right thing" has collected nearly 30,000 signatures, Malte told the crowd gathered at Wednesday's news conference.
Saying the Brady Campaign is "representing Starbucks customers," he read one customer complaint out loud and said the group planned to deliver the petitions to Starbucks headquarters Wednesday afternoon.
Malte also brought up Starbucks' efforts to maintain ethical buying practices as reason to expect it would ban guns from its stores. As a "socially responsible" company, he said, Starbucks should do the "socially responsible" thing.
Heidi Yewman, president of the Vancouver, Wash., chapter of Million Mom March, followed his nudge with an accusation: "By allowing people to openly carry guns in their stores, [Starbucks is] violating the public's trust, they're violating their customers' trust, they're violating their employees' trust and their violating the community's trust," she said to loud objections.
"Fear-mongerer!" someone yelled.
After the news conference, gun enthusiast Brick Loomis gathered with other protesting advocates behind the podium. A veteran who spent 30 years training soldiers on weaponry, Loomis showed up with his two dogs -- Ransom and Basil -- and a sign: "Thank you Starbucks! Coffee, God, Guns, All-American values."
"Coffee, God, Guns, All-American values"? Really. You just can't make this stuff up.

Starbucks can do something about this if they so choose. One wonders how much longer they will tolerate openly carried guns in their stores promoted by the gun rights extremists? The company can follow state laws, as they say they are doing, by posting signs. That is part of the law of most states. Private businesses have a right to keep their customers safe and free from gun violence. It is hypocritical to ban smoking and not guns. No one should feel as if they are forced to accept loaded guns in their places of business or other places, for that matter. It's time to demand change to the gun culture and gun laws. We are better than this. Let's get to work.

UPDATE:

A friend, a fellow victim and colleague, Griffin Dix, has written this letter to the Hartford Courant about guns in Starbucks:
This is all well and good. But all Starbucks stores, not just the one in Newtown, should respect what our nation has been through. Between 2001 and 2010, almost 1 million Americans (989,023) were shot -- and the number of Americans shot is rising. 
Normalizing the (open or concealed) carrying of firearms in public places, and legitimizing their use (as in "stand your ground" or "shoot first" laws), increases aggravated assaults and gun homicides. 
While I do not favor preventing law-abiding Americans from owning firearms, I feel we should all boycott Starbucks until it prohibits bringing guns into its stores out of respect for America's safety, and for what our nation has been through.

UPDATE:

One does have to despair over the behavior of blog and article gun trolls. In case they wonder why they get painted with a broad brush of craziness, check out this article about "gun appreciation day" at Starbucks:
An event page was made by someone on Facebook where people could post pictures of their loaded outing, and post comments aimed (pardon the pun) to offend anybody who dare disagree with what most people, including those who own handguns, would consider nuts.  Actually, this is the very reason we need common sense laws. I personally came under attack when I commented.  Some lunatics even called for raping those women who disagreed with them as well as using the ‘C’ word and the you’re so fat type of comments along with this gem under a picture of Hitler, “Gun are the best way to kill some Jews”. Yes, these people should be walking around with loaded weapons, NOT!
I made mention that my right to enjoy a cup of coffee without worrying about being shot trumped their rights to have a loaded gun inside a coffeehouse. I was debunked (in their crazy minds) because nowhere in the Constitution does it allow for me to drink coffee, per some constitutional scholar.  How could I possibly argue with that nugget?
I had planned on posting some of the more odious comments while redacting the names, but it seems Facebook beat me to it.  The page is still up, but clearly being watched.  Do as you want, but I’ll continue not to spend my coffee allowance in Starbucks or on their grocery store products.
In case you gun guys out there wonder why the rest of us don't want you carrying your guns at Starbucks and other places where normal people and families hang out, here is why. You won't convince the 90% of us who favor common sense gun laws that having you all carry your guns in public places will make us safer. It's time for a change. No one needs to be harassed and intimidated by the "guys with the guns." They are scary.



13 comments:

  1. I would like to point out that Starbucks has a policy against their own employees carrying firearms in the stores. Why is that? Do they recognize the danger in doing so? Why, then, do they not extend that policy to their customers, most of whom are strangers to those working in the stores.

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  2. I honestly don't think the Starbucks is either pro or anti gun. What it comes down to is that in applicable states, under mandated restrictions, carrying of a firearm is legal. If its legal, a company has to make a decision as to whether its worth driving off customers. It sounds to me like opposing sides of the gun debate have turned Starbucks into a political football. So it is now jumping through hoops trying not to take sides.
    In most states, smoking inside is against state law. If you want to insure permit holders stay out of Starbucks, have the legislature pass a law against carry in coffee shops.

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    1. No Mark. The gun rights extremists put Starbucks square in the middle of the discussion. I would love to pass that law. I'm sure you would support it.

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  3. I just ran across an interesting article that pretty accurately illustrates what I think the situation is with the Starbucks thing.
    1. Gun-rights activists are playing an obnoxious, unnecessary game. 2. Gun-control activists take the bait. 3. Starbucks is trying to do the right thing. 4. The Newtown compromise made sense.

    http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2013-08-12/starbucks-and-guns-four-blunt-observations

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    1. What this article clearly missed is the fact that there have already been 2 incidents of guns going off in Starbucks stores. And that is just in Starbucks stores. The fact that they wouldn't change their policy after those incidents is pretty ridiculous. People have gone to other coffee shops. That is the point. "Gun control activists" are trying to prevent shootings. That is not condedescending or taking any bait. That is called doing the right thing.

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  4. Not such a fan of open displays of firearms in situations like this- too much "look at me" that does little more than draw attention to oneself. That said, expect those of us who are very pro 2a to remain vocal and defiant of new legislation.

    As far as Starbucks goes, I'm fond of the idiom "concealed means concealed"

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    1. Nice to know you will remain defiant. That means no common ground. That means no compromising. That means that even if new legislation does nothing at all to affect second amendment rights or your own rights as a gun owner, we can expect strong resistance to saving lives. Nice.

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  5. And there lies the heart of the issue- when we say anything in defense of the second amendment, the right to carry even concealed weapons, you say we don't want to save lives.

    I hate to break it to you, but open carry situations like what's been seen at Starbucks is a reaction to such thinking. Again, I disagree with it, but as a form of protest, to get under the skin of those who have the audacity to suggest we don't care about lives, especially those of children.

    I'm a father now myself and at a freedom rally I spoke at in Boston, we were called baby killers simply because we spoke against the draconian laws being proposed in the state. You talk about common ground and rhetoric all the time and so I'm here asking, as an organizer for the other side, we are willing to talk but never at the expense of our rights and common ground is possible, but realize the crazy is just as prevalent on your side.

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    1. Max- I understand that there are some extremists on both sides. I am not one of them and it sounds like you are not either. But I think it's pretty common knowledge that, at this point in time in America, the extremists mostly reside on your side of this issue. The fact that a simple background check on all gun sales at gun shows and on the Internet gets such strong resistance says it all. This is compromise, by the way. Private sales will not be included though one could argue they should be. This will not violate any rights. The system has been in places since 1993. The proposed law will only extend the current system to gun shows and sales in the Internet, both of which provide some guns go those who shouldn't be able to have them. These guns are used in gun crimes and yes, injury and death. In the end, saving lives is what this is about. But those on your side have made it clear that they oppose simple measures that will save lives. How can we see it otherwise? What is your explanation for this? What is your explanation for not even being able to pass a gun trafficking law in Congress? What's wrong with wanting to stop straw purchasing and trafficking of guns? That could save lives. You will have to explain why a measure that could save lives over time is so fiercely opposed.

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    2. Sir
      background checks are required for all sales at a gun show from Federal Firearms Dealers.(that is made very clear by the ATF when one wants to get a FFL). The only exception to this are private sales which you say you don't want to have background checks on. If a gun is sold on the internet it must be sent to a federal firearms dealer who is required to do a background check as per federal and state law, So if those laws already are in place what is the law you want to pass? All of these facts are found on the ATF website if you want to check. What we oppose is a national gun registry. If you look into history you will find the last national gun registry was in Germany under Adolf Hitler, and we all know how that turned out. Now I am not saying that would happen here but if power is abused it usually does not turn out good for the "average Joe". Just some info for you to think on. oh and if you look at straw purchases they are also forbidden by the ATF and federal law as is gun trafficking. Please look at the ATF website and check my facts. As a FFL holder I am very familiar with the laws I must adhere to or end up in federal prison.

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    3. First of all, don't call me sir..Second of all, you are wrong. I want background checks on all private gun sales. They account for 40% of gun sales at gun shows! flea markets and most especially on the Internet. I suggest you check out Armslist.com. You can clearly see that people are selling guns with no background checks. People can pick them up in parking lots or wherever a drop off spot is agreed upon.

      I suggest you check the ATF site again. They are the ones who estimate that about 25-50% of sales at gun shows are through private sellers. That means that if those private sellers don't require background checks, and we know many do not, anyone can buy a gun from them. The Columbine shooters obtained their guns this way. No background check for the young woman who purchased from a private seller at a gun show. The Milwaukee spa shooter of a year ago October got his gun from the Internet- no background check. He was a domestic abuser and a prohibited purchaser.

      Any time Hitler is brought into the conversation, I am done discussing. Kindly get your facts straight and forget about Hittler. That has nothing to do with what is going on in 2013 America. You should be embarrassed to believe that nonsense. And of course straw purchases are against the law, most people know that. As an FFL holder you shoukd he dealing in the facts. Don't sell any guns without background checks to,prohibited purchasers or allow any straw purchases.

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  6. While I respect your right to voice your opinions ( in fact I have fought in 2 wars for your right to) I disagree with some of the so called facts in this article. 1. law abiding gun owners have prevented many such incidences such as that in Newtown and others. The fact that all these tragedies happened in places that are known to be "gun free' is a testament to this. You never hear of a madman coming in and killing everyone at a gun range. 2. the statement that we have the highest per capita of gun deaths in the civilized world is not just misleading it is just plain wrong. we are 28th in the world in gun violence yet we are by far number one in gun ownership. yes accidental discharges do happen they are the exception not the norm. If you feel the need to try to ban or restrict gun ownership I feel you are not looking at the whole picture there is a reason that it is the 2nd amendment to the constitution because it is truly that important. I know that there are some that would label me a "gun rights extremist" but in truth I have fought to preserve all the rights of everyone in the US and I would just like for those to think before they label me and try to see my point of view as I have fought so you my share yours. Thank you Gun Owning Veteran

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    1. Just about everything you have said in your comment is untrue. I wonder why you took this so personally. If you are not an extremist that is up to you, I guess. Thanks for your service to the country.

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