Starbucks gets backlash from anti-gun advocates

February 5, 2010 12:00:00 AM PST
Starbucks is getting some unwanted attention and it has nothing to do with its coffee. Starbucks is in the cross hairs of an organization that works to prevent gun violence because of its policy.

The average night for Bay Area Open Carry member Jon Schwartz involves having a cup of coffee with friends while carrying a gun. He is not a police officer, but he believes in his right to bear arms. He and other open gun carriers frequent Starbucks. They met in Antioch last week.

Unlike Peet's Coffee and California Pizza Kitchen, which have policies banning anyone with firearms from entering their businesses, Starbucks does not.

"Starbucks is being socially irresponsible," says Karen Anrtzn from the Brady Campaign.

The Brady Campaign to prevent gun violence is outraged. On Friday, the campaign started an online petition to push Starbucks to enact a gun-free policy and 15,000 people, nationwide, have signed up.

"We're certainly warning people that this is not a family-friendly environment when lethal weapons are on the premises," says Arntzen.

"I believe by them trying to strong arm a business to changing their business practices because of a perceived fear or perceived problem is just not right," says Schwartz.

But the perception has already caused problems. Livermore police responded after someone reported a man with a gun. It was a compliant open carrier, which means his gun was not loaded.

"It's a tough position to put these uniformed police officers in, to have these folks running around with guns on their hips," says attorney Michael Rains.

Rains represents several police officers who have complained open carriers cause confusion. The group has already notified Walnut Creek police about a lunch they are holding at the Buckhorn Grill.

Saturday will be the first meeting for open carriers in the city of Walnut Creek. ABC7 did attempt to contact the manager of the Buckhorn Grill three times on Friday, but he did not return the calls.