Shooting at Aurora, CO Starbucks—No Gun “Requests” Not Enough
February 3, 2016
Last weekend in Aurora, Colorado a juvenile was rushed to the hospital after a shooting at a Starbucks. (The same Aurora where 82 were shot at the movies.) Police said there were no arrests or suspects. Was it an “accident”?
Exactly four years ago, NGVAC, working with the Episcopal Peace Fellowship and Fellowship of Reconciliation, declared a Valentine’s Day boycott of Starbucks because of its refusal to ban guns or even post a sign telling customers they were entering an armed, gun-friendly zone. While Starbucks said it was just “following local laws,” menacing groups of gun carriers staged derisive “Gun Appreciation Days” after our action, causing the coffee chain to reconsider. In 2013, CEO Howard Schultz requested that “customers no longer bring firearms into our stores or outdoor seating areas” because carriers were “increasingly uncivil” and “even threatening.”
Belligerent carriers massing and threatening customers are not Starbucks’ only gun problem if you look at this week’s shooting and its accident history. At a Cheyenne, Wyoming Starbucks in 2011, a girl carrier dropped her purse which discharged her gun. “The bullet missed John Basile, 43, by about 12 inches,” reported the Wyoming Tribune-Eagle. Less than two years later, another woman dropped her gun-containing purse at a Starbucks and discharged a bullet—this time in St. Petersburg, Florida. What do customers think of “local laws” when they send bullets flying past their Frappuccinos?
Starbucks and every other major corporation in the US does not “request” that people bring no guns into its corporate headquarters and boardrooms—it bans them. (Nor do any corporations “request” people don’t smoke.) Yet these same companies refuse to protect their employees and customers the way they protect top officers.
Even if corporations don’t care about their customers, employees and the court of public opinion, it is in their own self-interest to ban guns. The top law firm Mayer Brown advises that “a property owner who did not put up the [no guns allowed] signs” faces the legal argument that it is entirely “foreseeable” that gun violence, injury or death “would occur.” As for gun carriers who think they will defend themselves and others, Mayer Brown says “It is not foreseeable or likely that armed individuals could successfully defend themselves in a crisis situation” and “would-be heroes” likely “create more danger.” Recently National Gun Victims Action Council conducted research on civilian self-defense with professors at Mount Saint Mary’s University and the Prince George’s County Police Department and the Washington Post covered the startling results.
NGVAC is about to launch a new, aggressive campaign to force corporations to abandon the cop-out of “following local laws” and take a stand against gun violence. Because corporations hold the nation’s purse strings they effect swift social, economic and legal change. Within weeks of Microsoft’s pro-marriage equality stand, hundreds of other companies followed suit. Indiana reversed its Religious Freedom Restoration Act (allowing discrimination based on religion) within days of Apple, American Airlines, the NCAA college sports league and others threatening to pull their convention business. Stay tuned!