Starbucks Chief Executive Howard Schultz has written an open letter asking firearm owners to refrain from bringing their weapons into the coffee chain’s stores.
But Schultz stopped short of banning weapons from Starbucks outlets, saying he didn’t want store managers and staff to confront armed customers.
Instead, he was “respectfully requesting” that gun-toting customers leave their firearms at home — even in states where gun owners are allowed to carry their weapons in public — unless they are law enforcement officers.
“We have chosen this approach because we believe our store partners should not be put in the uncomfortable position of requiring customers to disarm or leave our stores,” Schultz wrote in the letter posted on Starbucks’ website late Tuesday.
“We believe that gun policy should be addressed by government and law enforcement — not by Starbucks and our store partners.”
Until this week, Starbucks had allowed customers to bring weapons into coffee shops located in areas of states with open-carry laws, which permit gunowners to display their weapons in public.
Schultz's letter, which will be published in major newspapers on Thursday, came after Monday’s deadly shooting rampage at the Washington Navy Yard that left 12 people dead.
Starbucks spokeswoman Jaime Riley told MSNBC the timing of the letter was “more of a coincidence.”
“It was prompted by the ongoing issues that our nation has been facing over time,” she said.
“Recent activities by groups on both sides of the gun debate have politicized Starbucks for their own benefit and have essentially brought our stores into the middle of this uncivil debate.”
Riley was referring to "Starbucks Appreciation Days" staged by pro-gun activists at coffee shops as well as boycotts organized by Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, which was formed in the wake of the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School.
"To be clear: we do not want these events in our stores," said Schultz.