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Starbucks and Thompson

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We should take care that in exercising and supporting our personal rights, we don’t cause damage to members of our local business community.

A case in point … On September 17, 2013, Starbucks Corp Chief Executive

Howard Schultz made a request that the coffee chain’s customers leave their guns at home. According to a Reuters news story of the same date, this request was something of a change for Starbucks whose “… long-standing policy had been to default to local gun laws, including ‘open carry’ regulations …”

Importantly, however, Shultz emphasized that new policy is not a ban, and that patrons with guns would continue to be served in Starbucks stores – and the request to leave guns at home doesn’t apply to law enforcement personnel.

There’s not much more to this story – just a company exercising its right to make a request to its customers, and leaving customers to decide whether to honor the request or ignore it.

So the September 25, 2013 Bossier Press Tribune news story sub-titled “State Representative holds event in wake of Starbucks stance on open carry” raises a few questions. According to the story, Rep. Jeff Thompson “… urged customers to take their business to other coffee shops and diners who haven’t made such statements” – referring to the Starbucks request.

Thompson held his “Guns and Coffee” event at a local Chick-fil-A restaurant, where he said, “I enjoy buying Bossier residents a cup of coffee and discussing the current battle to defend our rights to protect our families.”

I visited last week with Thompson to inquire about the wisdom of pitting two local businesses against each other. Thompson said that he wasn’t looking to “… pick a fight … absolutely that’s their (Starbucks) business …” to ask customers to leave guns at home.

Rep. Thompson is a well-known and respected gun rights advocate, and most are familiar with his steady work in the state legislature to protect our Second Amendment rights.

Thompson said, “As a customer, I control where I spend my money. I like to support those businesses who support what I support … when you have a company like Starbucks, their position wasn’t supportive of Second Amendment rights – which is absolutely their right – as a consumer, I have the right to do business were I choose …”

Thompson is exactly right; we can all do business were we choose. The problem is that as a state lawmaker, his very public stand on this particular issue could easily damage a local franchise of a global business. And he could do so by misrepresenting what Howard Schultz actually said: please leave the guns at home, but if you don’t we’re here to serve you in either case.

That’s not a threat to Second Amendment rights. It’s a business decision – and it applies to a local Starbucks franchises who employ our residents, contribute to our tax base, and provide an exceedingly popular retail setting for local folks.

In the long run, Chick-fil-A wasn’t overwhelmed with the publicity about Thompson’s “Guns and Coffee” event. The company’s policy is not to host political events, according to Chick-fil-A communications director Carrie Kurlander, who was quoted responding to the news of Thompson’s event.

Let’s take care not to misdirect our supportive Second Amendment fire at businesses who didn’t do anything to deserve the shot.

 

Marty Carlson is a columnist for the Bossier Press-Tribune. Contact her at m_carlso@bellsouth.net