Open carry advocates test waters at Starbucks

January 30, 2010 12:00:00 AM PST
Gun owners who want to carry their weapons in public have recently been banned from two Bay Area chain restaurants. Now, advocates of California's open carry law are testing the boundaries at Starbucks.

Gun owners demonstrated their Second Amendment rights at a coffee shop in Antioch Saturday.

"We're just a bunch of citizens exercising their Second Amendment rights, which if you don't use them, you'll probably lose them," Gus Konstantaras with East Bay Open Carry told ABC7.

Every month, members of open carry gun groups get together, have a cup of coffee and talk about their rights. They usually meet at different Starbucks in the Bay Area, including one on A Street in Antioch.

"Perhaps you're preventing some crime from taking place. It makes sense to me. Cops can't be everywhere," said another man pointing out just one reason the gun owners say they pack in public. It is to protect themselves and others. Even though their guns are not loaded, their clips are close by.

"If someone were to directly assault myself or another individual, I would then have legal means to intervene," said Jon Schwartz referring to using his gun.

"This myth, that these people are somehow super heroes that are out there ready to take a bullet for you, they're just as likely to put a bullet in you," said Brady Campaign coordinator Karen Arntzen.

The Brady Campaign to prevent gun violence does not buy it. They do not see why anyone except police should be bearing arms in public, even if they have the right to.

This week, California Pizza Kitchen and Pete's Coffee and Tea enacted policies banning open gun carriers from entering their businesses. They claim some customers simply are not comfortable.

"I would question why, if it's not a police officer, why they have a gun being shown. They must have an agenda," said Jeffrey Smith of Concord. "I'd be nervous."

"I empathize with them, but I cannot allow them to infringe on my rights," said Konstantaras.

When asked Saturday if they had a policy on open carrying of guns, Starbucks said in a statement, "Starbucks supports the federal, state and local laws of the communities in which we do business."

Company officials would not elaborate.