Imagine the turmoil that would erupt if a shrill lobbying effort were mounted against a well-known American business, demanding that this company refuse service to Muslims, or servicemen and women in uniform, or people with lip rings or tattoos, or some other identifiable group.
So, why should we allow an extremist group of gun prohibitionists to browbeat a Seattle-based company because it caters to armed citizens same as anyone else? The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence has launched a campaign to force Starbucks to close its doors to legally- armed citizens exercising their constitutionally protected civil right to keep and bear arms.
The Brady Campaign has tried to ridicule and deny assertions that it is conducting a campaign of social bigotry against gun owners, but that’s what this is. It is an effort steeped in demagoguery and fueled by hysteria, designed to reverse the anti-gun movement’s noticeable slide toward irrelevancy in recent years that has also threatened its pocketbook. Simply put, the Brady Campaign needed an issue, so they invented this one.
Arguing that Starbucks has the right to refuse service to anyone carrying a firearm, the Brady Campaign conveniently overlooks the fact that Starbucks also has the right to provide service to anybody with cash in hand who wants to buy a cup of coffee. In recent years, to battle the expansion of concealed carry laws around the country, this organization and its affiliates have labored to convince or coerce private businesses to post their premises off limits to legally armed citizens.
They recently succeeded in California, alarming one restaurant chain into prohibiting personal protection proponents who open carry from entering their establishments. But Starbucks is the proverbial brick wall, because the company has simply explained that it has security measures in place and that it adheres to federal, state and local laws relating to firearms.
The alarmist rhetoric from the Brady camp is something to behold.
“The practice of packing heat in places like Starbucks is intimidating and could be potentially dangerous to our families and communities—and it must be stopped,” gasps Brady Campaign President Paul Helmke in one missive. “It’s everyone’s right to sit in a restaurant or coffee shop with their families without intimidation or fear of guns, either concealed or openly carried.”
Well, yes, it is particularly intimidating to thugs and other criminals who might otherwise try to rob such places and harm customers, as we point out in our book, “America Fights Back: Armed Self-Defense in a Violent Age.”
Helmke would have the whole country sharing his irrational fear and hatred of firearms and people who own them. He would require Starbucks and other business establishments to close their doors to a growing number of responsible people who have broken no laws and harmed nobody; people acting within existing law to exercise a civil right, and who just might, in an emergency, provide a first level of response when police are a phone call and several minutes away.
Elsewhere, Helmke lamented that “Starbucks is refusing to prohibit open carrying in its stores, despite protests from loyal customers.” He intimates that overwhelming public sentiment is on his side, when one glance at reader feedback sections in newspapers reporting this story clearly shows otherwise. His rhetoric suggests that armed customers are somehow less loyal, and perhaps less worthy to enjoy a latte or mocha.
Helmke and his cohorts can sneer and ridicule all they want, but at the end of the day, what they are pushing is blatant prejudice against American gun owners. They intimidate with the threat of bad publicity and questionable on-line petitions, or by spreading their own hysteria to others. Indeed, they are doing what they have accused the so-called “gun lobby” of doing. While imitation is often the highest form of flattery, in this case it smacks of world-class hypocrisy.
The Brady Campaign is wrong. It is not that Starbucks is “refusing to prohibit open carrying,” it is just that Starbucks is courageously refusing to allow Helmke and his ilk to dictate how and with whom it will conduct its business.
Alan Gottlieb and Dave Workman are co-authors of Assault on Weapons: The Campaign to Eliminate Your Guns, published by Merril Press. Gottlieb is founder and Executive Vice President of the Second Amendment Foundation. Workman is senior editor of Gun Week.