Growing up in North Carolina I was raised on reruns of the Andy Griffith Show. The show featured Griffith as Andy Taylor, the Sheriff of the small, fictional town of Mayberry, North Carolina. As I thought about the recent decision by the CEO of Starbucks, I couldn't help think about Andy and his sidekick Barney Fife.
In the show, Sheriff Andy Taylor had a deputy named Barney Fife, played expertly by funny-man Don Knotts (left). Barney was a blow-hard, cocksure law man who talked a good game but ultimately he'd end up literally shooting himself in the foot every other episode. Barney Fife is the person who best exemplifies the debacle that was the “open carry” movement last week.
Starbucks Coffee had long been the metaphorical Switzerland of the gun-control debate. Liberals screamed and pleaded for the coffee chain to turn their stores into gun-free zones. Anti-gun zealots threatened boycots and protests. Much to their chagrin, Starbucks made it clear that his stores would abide by state and local laws. If it was legal to carry in the city or state where a Starbucks was located, they would allow it. Starbucks wanted to stay out of the political debate and remain neutral.
To show our gratitude, gun owners, particularly those of us who carry concealed, were encouraged to counter the protests by visiting our local Starbucks to let the management know that we appreciated their position. We would counter the boycotts with “buycotts.”
Unfortunately, as some in the gun-rights community are wont to do, things got out of hand.
Some began advocating that people “open carry” in Starbucks stores where it is legal. While I support the right to carry openly where it is legal, I do not support the asinine behavior of those who chose to make Starbucks an “in your face” statement against gun-control. Walking in with a legally holstered handgun is one thing. Drawing them to pose for pictures in full view of other patrons is another.
Still others pushed the limits even farther. Rather than simply patronizing their local stores, some chose to make a pilgrimage to the Newtown, Connecticut store to make a statement less than a year after the school massacre there. Others came to Starbucks with rifles and shotguns.
That was the tipping point where Starbucks Coffee, long a neutral party in the gun-rights debate, finally had enough. In an open letter, Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz has asked gun owners to refrain from bringing guns into his stores.
All this episode has done is give gun owners a bad name, as if we needed one. Some could not simply let things be. Barney Fife shot himself, again.
To anti-gun activists this is seen as a victory. In truth it is not an outright ban. Schultz simply says that guns are unwelcome. He has not officially changed the policy. Starbucks will not be displaying official no-guns signs outside their stores. Yet.
For gun-rights supporters, realize that Schultz is more concerned that some idiots on our side are using his stores as stages for political theater. If you carried concealed in Starbucks before, nothing will prevent you from doing so now.
To hardcore open-carry activists who are considering continued open carry events as a way of protesting or defying the CEO's wishes let me say this: Drop dead. Your actions reinforce every negative stereotype the anti-gun crowd believes about us. Who the hell brings a Remington 870 or an AR-15 to a coffee shop? Seriously? You really thought that was a good idea? Crawl back in whatever idiot box you came from and just stop. YOU are the reason Mr. Schultz has written this letter. Continued stupidity on your part will lead him to change company policy and make all carry illegal in his stores.
For those who now want to boycott Starbucks for “caving” to the anti-gun Nazis, just don't. Starbucks did this because morons who call themselves “gun-rights” activists decided to wave their guns around and “exercise their rights” in public. Starbucks is in the business of selling coffee, which they can't do if customers are scared of the whack-jobs posing with guns in their stores.
Keep drinking Starbucks coffee, or don't, it's up to you. But remember why we got here and who the real culprit is.