Gun-Rights, Barney Fife Style

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.

imageIn 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.

imageSome 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.

imageStill 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.

4 Comments on "Gun-Rights, Barney Fife Style"

  1. Matthew Watrous | September 24, 2013 at 12:50 pm |

    You have perfectly restated my position. Just because one has the choice to open carry, does doing so necessarily make the best statement for the Second Amendment? What does it say to the opposition when gun owners carry AR-15s into a coffee shop? Not everyone is trying to be Tactical Ted with the 5.11 gear and spare mags everywhere. I carry a 1911 anytime that I am not at my place of work as a public school teacher. Do I open carry, ever? Only when I am teaching a firearms class or when I am working behind the counter of the gun store where I teach. In that environment, open carry makes sense. In my local coffee shop or grocery store or library or church, I do not believe open carry will be greeted with open arms. I prefer to make my statements in more subtle ways, via communication and introducing others to the shooting sports in a safe, non-threatening environment.

  2. Well said, both of you!

  3. Agreed- Starbucks didn’t want to be dragged into it. The first “appreciation day” was sufficient. The increasing number of “appreciation days” forced their hand. And of course idiots (from both sides) didn’t help. As for open carry- it depends on where you live if it is legal or accepted. I have open carried before without issue. (save at Costco, who lost my business over it) For the most part, it seems people don’t notice. If you OC a service pistol common to law enforcement, most will think you are a cop anyway. As I see fit, I do carry concealed. It also allows others to get to know me before they know I carry so they don’t get the wrong impression. Individual responsibility comes with the requirement to take others into consideration. A weapon has one of the strongest requirements for responsibility because of the damage it can cause.

  4. Skinnedknuckles | September 28, 2013 at 3:23 pm |

    This OC vs CC debate reminds me of the civil rights movement when I was growing up in the 60’s. Those who pressed the issue with sit in’s at lunch counters and more aggressive demonstrations were criticized by the “mainstream” civil rights activists (who were called Uncle Tom and worse by the more aggressive activists). Today we look back and say that without the aggressive activists the Civil Rights movement would never have achieved critical mass, and the movement survived the illegal activities of the Black Panthers as well.

    I’m still on the fence about some of the more aggressive OC’ers, maybe because I’m too chicken to be out front with them. I do know that we are in this together and I will go out of my way not to criticize someone pressing for recovery of our Second Amendment rights. I just hope they carefully weigh the risks (personally and for the movement) and the rewards (same considerations) before they act. Civil Rights were not supported by the mainstream when Rosa Parks finally got fed up, and she was criticized for her actions more than the police who manhandled her were criticized at the time. Will the guys in Starbucks with their AR’s and the idiot police who arrested them get the same treatment 15 years from now?

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