In an open letter published yesterday by Starbucks, CEO Howard Shultz expressed his exasperation that the coffee store superchain had been forced into a huge cultural battle without their own volition.

The subject of 'open carry' laws regarding the legal carrying of firearms in certain states in America has led to many gun-toting advocates for the regulations holding 'Starbucks Appreciation' days, disingenuously perpetuating the idea that Starbucks supports gun ownership.

Shlutz said in his letter: "We are respectfully requesting that customers no longer bring firearms into our stores or outdoor seating areas — even in states where 'open carry' is permitted — unless they are authorized law enforcement personnel."

Starbucks have never openly banned the carrying of guns in their stores, leading to some controversy from gun control advocate groups, even leading to a boycott of the chain by a victim's support group in 2012.

Rather than supporting 'open carry', Starbucks has simply said when asked that they have been adhering to local laws about gun ownership.

Schultz still isn't making a statement on open carry laws, but he said the appreciation days had been taking their toll on employees and other customers, especially given an "increasingly uncivil" debate.

"Pro-gun activists have used our stores as a political stage for media events misleadingly called "Starbucks Appreciation Days," he said, "...disingenuously portray[ing] Starbucks as a champion of "open carry." To be clear: we do not want these events in our stores. Some anti-gun activists have also played a role in ratcheting up the rhetoric and friction, including soliciting and confronting our customers and partners.

"That doesn't mean Starbucks is outright banning guns. While the company is politely asking people not to bring them into coffee shops (or at least not carry them openly), it's instructed employees not to confront anyone who does bring one in, both because of the potential danger and because "we want to give responsible gun owners the chance to respect our request." Instead, Starbucks will ask people to leave their guns behind through "external media," likely a posted sign. Schultz has urged advocates on any side to take their battles to Congress, but his final point is likely to annoy those who see "a good guy with a gun" as a source of safety: "The presence of a weapon in our stores is unsettling and upsetting for many of our customers."

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