This past Friday, quite a few pro-gun types celebrated “Starbucks Appreciation Day” by open carrying in their local Starbucks. This is because of Starbuck’s official corporate policy on carrying guns in their stores is “if it’s legal, knock yourself out.” They’re neither pro-gun nor anti-gun, but rather “pro-money.” I did not go to Starbucks on Friday, not because I don’t appreciate them but because the Starbucks is further away than the better, local coffee shop that’s right downtown. But that’s neither here nor there, because the real issue that I want to look is whether or not it’s time to knock this Starbucks stuff off.
I’m not alone in this opinion – smart guy Sebastian at PA Gun Blog had this to say:
At this point, I think if Starbucks reverses its policy, we have no one to blame except ourselves. We’re already seeing hints this may be getting pushed too far by our own side. Last year, when this issue heated up again, I thought our side was working too hard to help the antis keep the issue alive.
On top of that, Paul Barrett, the author of Glock the Book wrote an article about it in the mainstream press. Paul was even less complimentary than Sebastian, and the following paragraph is particularly scathing, and unfortunately right on point.
Gun-rights activists are playing an obnoxious, unnecessary game. They have the right in most states to carry firearms openly. But the now-annual Starbucks Appreciation event is a gratuitous attempt to rile the portion of the populace made uncomfortable by open display of firearms. In a country with sharply divided attitudes toward guns, why purposely provoke one’s neighbors? If one wants to carry a Glock, why not do so modestly, without the intentionally offensive show of force? The vast majority of lawful civilian gun owners handle their weapons carefully. The ones who show up at armed rallies at Starbucks are sending an unsavory signal of intimidation.
There’s nothing wrong with showing appreciate for Starbuck’s policy on firearms, and doing so with your money is the best way to do it. But I think we’re making a tactical error, because in many cases we’re acting like Starbucks is pro-gun. That’s just not the case, because Starbuck’s policy has always been “if it’s legal, we don’t care.” We’re doing the activist equivalent assuming that the cute girl in Chem class has a crush on us just because she’s nice to us. The reality is she’s just a nice person, but she really has a crush on Barry the captain of the track team.
I’m not saying don’t open carry, because lord knows I don’t want to kick over that can of worms. I am however going back to Caleb’s First Rule: Don’t be a dick. There are lots of people who go to Starbucks who don’t care one way or the other about gun rights, and the over-the-top demonstrations in Starbucks could alienate the sort of people we’re trying to win over to our side. If you’re going to carry a gun, just carry your gun. Do it legally, do it safely, but regardless of whether you’re OCing or CCing, don’t make a big production out of it. Just carry your gun, and live your life. That will be a much better example than any “OC demonstration” ever was.