Split Shot

Your derringer may have to get used to homemade espresso.

The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence has Starbucks in its sights. The D.C. gun-control organization is demanding that the coffee giant ban gun owners from carrying a firearm into any Starbucks coffeehouse.A petition is being circulated on the Brady Campaign's Web site, and the group's president, Paul Helmke, has sent a letter to Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz, asking him to "reverse Starbucks' current policy allowing persons to carry guns, both openly and concealed" in their stores.A graphic of the famous Starbucks mermaid is shown brandishing a pair of pistols while flanked by coffee beans and a .357 Magnum hollow-point cartridge. Petition-signers are encouraged to tell Starbucks to "Keep guns out." The Brady Campaign claims to have gathered more than 10,000 online responses in favor of the petition.The controversy stems from the growing popularity of the Open Carry movement. It is legal in 43 states, including Washington, for gun owners to carry an unconcealed handgun. In January, California Open Carriers began holding meetings in restaurants and coffeehouses, attracting media attention and prompting executives from Peet's Coffee to prohibit openly displaying firearms in all their locations. Similar meetings took place in Virginia last year.The Brady Campaign wants Starbucks to take matters one step further by prohibiting not only open-carry, but also gun owners with concealed-pistol licenses, in all its locations across the country. "Every bar in America has a policy like this," said Peter Hamm, a spokesperson for the Brady Campaign. "If it's good enough for bars and restaurants, it should be good enough for Starbucks."Starbucks responded to questions with a tightly worded statement. "For Starbucks, the safety of our customers and partners is a paramount concern. We have existing security protocols in place to handle situations related to safety in our stores. We will continue to adhere closely to local, state and federal laws and the counsel of law enforcement regarding this issue."Last May, SW profiled a local Open Carry chapter ("Open Fire," May 27) whose members volunteered to pick up litter along Interstate 5 in Fife. The goal of the Open Carry movement is to destigmatize firearms and gun owners. The more people see others carrying handguns, behaving in a normal and law-abiding manner by shopping at a grocery store or drinking an espresso at the local coffee stand, the less they will have to fear from guns themselves—or so the reasoning goes. The Brady Campaign, however, contends that the sight of a man carrying a Colt 1911 in a tactical holster only frightens and intimidates other coffee customers, particularly families with small children.So do jittery hands make for itchy trigger fingers? Hamm concedes that there have been no incidents of violence involving lawful gun owners at any Starbucks. However, he says, nervous java junkies have called the police on folks legally open-carrying. Hamm said this is an unnecessary waste of police resources.

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