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Gun owners surrender to Starbucks, respect anti-firearms policy

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COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo.— Gun owners are devoted to the Second Amendment, but it turns out many of them are also fans of caramel macchiatos.

Last week's letter from Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz requesting that customers leave their firearms at home has yet to trigger an organized backlash, even though some gun owners say they've decided to go elsewhere for their morning cup of joe.

"I obviously don't feel it was a good decision, but it's a free country," said Paul Paradis, owner of Paradise Sales gun shop in Colorado Springs.

Mr. Schultz did not ban firearms, but issued a "respectful request that customers no longer bring firearms into our stores or outdoor seating areas." Some gun owners say they sympathize with Starbucks' dilemma.

"I think Starbucks' request was not unreasonable," said Lucky Baca of Denver in a post on the Rocky Mountain Gun Owners Facebook page. "They did not change [their] policy or stance on guns only asked not to be used as a pawn in this war that we are fighting."

Starbucks has been caught for years in the middle of a pitched battle between advocates on both sides of the firearms issue. The company's policy has been to follow state and local laws on open and concealed-carry.

Last month, Starbucks was ground zero for two national advocacy events: Skip Starbucks Saturday, a boycott staged by Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, and Starbucks Appreciation Day, at which gun owners brought their firearms to the coffee shops where permitted.

Gun Owners of America spokesman Erich Pratt told USA Today Thursday that the organization is not calling for action, adding that, "Our understanding is that there is really no change to the policy."

Other gun-rights advocates say owners overplayed their hand by flaunting their rifles and other firearms at the Aug. 9 Starbucks Appreciation Day.

Self-professed "gun nut" Tim Morehead of Parker, Colo., said "gun owners have nobody to blame but ourselves."

"Starbucks has always supported the gun community. They wanted to remain neutral, and comply with all local laws in the states and cities of each of their stores," said Mr. Morehead in a Facebook post on the RMGO page. "They politely asked not to be drawn into this debate. So what do we as gun owners do? We pulled them right into the fire by deliberately open carrying in their stores, and for no better reason than to deliberately throw it in the antis faces."

Rachel Alexander, an editor of "Intellectual Conservative" and "Western Shooting Journal," advised Starbucks to "stick to coffee" but agreed that some gun owners "needlessly provoked Starbucks."

"Was it really necessary to showcase Starbucks for allowing firearms in their stores?" said Ms. Alexander in a column that appeared Thursday in the Guardian, adding, "Gun owners must pick and choose their battles carefully, or risk the consequences of bad PR that could have been avoided."

Mr. Paradis, an organizer of the successful recall election against state Sen. John Morse, said he's no longer patronizing Starbucks for his white-chocolate mochas, even though he's worn his firearm to Starbucks before and "nobody's ever asked me to leave."

"The bottom line is, I support people who support what I believe in," said Mr. Paradis.

Mr. Schultz said in his Tuesday letter that "we know we cannot satisfy everyone."

"For those who oppose 'open carry,' we believe the legislative and policy-making process is the proper arena for this debate, not our stores," said Mr. Schultz. "For those who champion 'open carry,' please respect that Starbucks stores are places where everyone should feel relaxed and comfortable."

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