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The great Starbucks gun debate

by Bob Morris, published

Starbucks, replying to a petition from a gun control group, has said it will not ban the carry of handguns in its stores, if permitted by local law. The controversy ignited in Walnut Creek, CA when members of Bay Area Open Carry, a group advocating the legal carry of loaded handguns, began carrying open, unloaded handguns at Starbucks (which is generally legal under California law, with some exceptions.)

The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence responded to this by starting a national campaign to have people sign a petition to demand Starbucks ban guns. Starbucks, so far, has refused. As you can imagine, this controversy has both the pro- and anti-gun control factions, well, up in arms.

Some background: Our state gun laws are a confusing thicket of contradictory rules. For example, Alaska and Vermont allow concealed carry of loaded handguns without a permit. In other states, the gun may be concealed but a permit is needed. In still others, open carry of loaded handguns is okay, but concealed carry is not. But in some states, don’t even think about doing any of this.

It's even unclear if local businesses can ban handguns as the Brady Campaign wants. Again, it depends on local law. In Utah, a state university was unable to ban guns in classrooms as such rights are specifically guaranteed by the state constitution.

A central issue here, and one that is often overlooked, is differences in attitudes about guns between rural and urban people, especially in the rural South and West. Out in the country, people grow up using guns. It’s part of the culture, as is hunting. They know how to handle guns, and can for practical matters kill critters that want to attack livestock or eat crops. Also, people in such areas tend to be more in favor of state’s rights and resent what they see as meddling by the federal government.

Meanwhile, city dwellers look at the sometimes appalling urban gun violence, and say guns should be heavily regulated, and ask why on earth anyone should be allowed to own a machine gun in the first place. In a densely populated urban part of Los Angeles, many might say we shouldn't allow AK-47's. But in a wide-open valley in Wyoming, such a ban might seem absurd.

As a point of reference, some Tea Partiers carried weapons to a town hall meeting and liberals went "Eek". This was the precise same reaction of conservatives in 1968 when Black Panthers posed with assault weapons on the steps of the California State Capitol. Both actions were completely legal. And both times, the planet in fact was not knocked off its axis.

Amusingly, a pro-gun site notes that the Brady Campaign "Coffee and Guns" Starbucks logo has been appropriated by their side for propaganda use too.

What say all of you? Should Starbucks ban guns?

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