“Starbucks in Cross-hairs Over Gun Debate.” Haha, that actually took me a moment. Very clever, CNN, very clever.
As you may remember from eighth-grade social studies, coffeehouses have a long tradition of serving writers,philosophers, and those bent on fomenting political change. Where did the American revolutionaries go before dumping all that English tea into Boston harbor? Coffeehouse. Where did all those French patriots meet before storming the Bastille and eventually beheading Marie Antoinette for being both selfish and dense as a brick? Coffeehouse.
Where do pro-gun Americans go to get their caffeine fix, idly chat, and make a statement by openly carrying their guns?
Apparently, the disheartening landmark Supreme Court case of District of Columbia v. Heller (which is the one where the Supreme Court ruled that the Second Amendment protects an individual’s right to possess a firearm unconnected with service in a militia and that struck down part of D.C.’s Firearms Control Regulations Act of 1975 ) has empowered and emboldened gun rights activists. Since that decision in June of 2008, American cities have seen the erosion of their gun control laws. Right here in Seattle, the city’s ban of guns in public places was struck down just last month.
Gun rights supporters are celebrating this turn of events by wearing their guns openly – first to Peet’s Coffee and Tea, who told them, quite politely, to take off the gun or take a hike. Then to California Pizza Kitchen, who also banned guns on their premises after several gun owners showed up for dinner with pieces strapped to belts and hips.
Starbucks, on the other hand, has accepted customers who carry their guns, provided that it is done in accordance with the local law. Per their official statement, Starbucks has chosen not to ban customers for wearing guns because doing so would mean asking one of their employees to ask a law-abiding citizen to leave, which would put the employee in an untenable position (even though it is perfectly acceptable under the law for a business to ask a customer to leave – say for not wearing shoes or a shirt or carrying a weapon).
As a result, we have people who believe more guns equals less crime on the one hand; and people who believe weak gun laws mean more gun deaths on the other – butting heads over double-tall white chocolate mochas. Naturally, Starbucks has requested that both groups take their political issues to their legislative representatives and out of their coffeehouses.
Now I don’t have an automatic aversion to guns. I’ve never owned one, but I have shot one. And I’ve heard many different points of view on this subject. One person I spoken to, a mother and paralegal, felt open carry laws were a comfort – it’s better to have the visual cue that someone is packing heat; it’s criminals that we have to worry about, and as long as they’re able to buy guns, law-abiding citizens should be able to buy and carry guns as well. A friend of mine offered the opinion that the Second Amendment was written at a time when Americans “had flintlock muzzleloaders that only worked half the time and half the population hunted for food” and that it was not unreasonable for someone to have to go through a waiting period, training, and registration if they want to own a tool whose main purpose is killing things.
Again, I’m not a rabid gun-control freak. Or a Communist. Ooh, or a Nazi, I understand that label gets thrown at liberals a lot now. In this particular debate, it completely creeps me out that the Roberts Supreme Court can take the very first clause of the Second Amendment (A well-regulated militia) and make it mean “an individual unconnected with service in a militia”, because those two things are the opposite of one another. I don’t understand how a Philadelphia law that restricted an individual from buying more than one gun a month is unconstitutional (who needs to buy more than one gun a month?). And you know what, I don’t think that even law-abiding citizens ought to be able to bring their guns into the place where I’m drinking coffee unless he or she is an officer of some kind. What bothers me the most about it is that, here in Seattle, someone openly carrying a gun can do so with the gun loaded (as opposed to San Francisco, where ammunition can be kept in one’s pocket but not in one’s gun). No matter how you spin it, someone who carries a gun does so because they want to be prepared for a violent encounter – and those usually end up with dead or injured innocent bystanders. The only time it would be okay is during the zombie apocalypse (out of all the possible ones, I think the zombie apocalypse is my favorite).
That aside – the Starbucks thing. I think it’s important to take into account the principles and beliefs of the businesses you frequent. It’s why so many of us try to buy organic and local, or why so many of us avoid McDonald’s. On the other hand, I think all this attacking of Starbucks for their stand on gun rights distracts from the main issue of gun control – which is the control part. We shouldn’t be up in arms and petitioning Starbucks to change their policy. We should be up in arms and demanding that our legislative representatives change the current policy. I mean, they’re the ones with the power to pass laws, and they’re not going to do anything until we get all Naggy McNagster on them.
Also, maybe we should pay a little more attention to the people who get appointed as judges in state and federal courts. Short of death or retirement, an appointed judge has no term limits. And they’re the ones who uphold or strike down our laws.
That’s really all I have to say, and it was a lot, I know. But I’d really like to hear what you have to say. We can be innocent bystanders together! Or you might be the one who shoots me, I don’t know.