Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Have Gun, WIll Latte

I've always been confused by Starbucks, the great American Institution and symbol of yuppies and carefree consumerism. This is the place where the smallest cup of coffee is called a "Tall." What's the biggest called, a "Giganto?" Depending on what you order, you can easily spend two or three dollars for a cup. They offer cappuccinos, tea, and scones. In other words, it's the sort of place with the kinds of products mocked by right wing opponents of vegetarians, elitism, and free-range chicken pot pies. That's why I was surprised to learn that some gun-toting, 2nd Amendment-loving customers were sitting in Starbucks, sipping green tea. So much for stereotypes.

At least 38 states allow people to walk around with unconcealed weapons. For the most part, those people I'm talking about have not qualified to get licenses to carry concealed weapons. These are people who actually have their guns visible in their holsters at some Starbucks, reminiscent of cowboys in Western movies sashaying into the town saloon.
Stop right there. Gun lovers don't need to send me angry emails. I'm not suggesting that those who walk into Starbucks or other places of business with their weapons in view don't have a right to do so. As I have asked in other similar instances, I'm just wondering why anyone would want to do so. It's hard for me to imagine a conversation between two friends like this: "Hey, Joe, you want to go to Starbucks and get a cup of coffee?" "Sounds good, Mike. Just let me grab my gun." There's a bit of a riff between those gun advocates who want to walk around with their firearms visible, and the more traditional NRA-ers who feel weapons can be carried more discreetly. The latter fear that if many people walk around with their guns so everyone can see them, people might get frightened. Uh, yeah. I don't even feel safe being next to someone who has had a triple espresso and is unarmed. In many states, people who carry their guns openly don't need a permit or any sort of training. That's right. No gun safety training at all. In other words, if you happen to be sitting next to someone who is wearing a gun while he spoons the whipped cream from his drink, you might want to move to another table. So why does Starbucks allow customers to come in armed? Starbucks has said that they aren't going to get involved in the politics of guns, and they will comply with the local laws. In other words, they don't want to turn away any customers as long as they're carrying cash as well as their weapons. Other restaurants and coffee places have simply banned guns. But not Starbucks. Why have those who like to have a gun in their belts chosen Starbucks as a place to hang out? It could just be that after a hard day of target practice, they have a hankerin' for decaf venti lattes. Or maybe the idea is to wear their guns in a place they know is filled with anti-gun people. That way, they can show that life coach and her yoga teacher who are stopping off for cappuccinos that it's not really dangerous to be in the same room with someone carrying a weapon that could blow a hole in your chest. Some of these gun-carrying people say they hope what they're doing will put pressure on the states to make it easier for a person to get a license to carry a concealed weapon. In other words, "the only reason we're carrying our guns in public like this is because you make it so hard for us to walk around, hiding our guns." It just seems weird to think of Starbucks being a hangout for urban cowboys and cowgirls. You've got to admit that it's odd to think of someone who spent the last few hours cleaning his gun standing in line patiently so he can say, "I'd like a decaf grande’ cappuccino, with a biscotti on the side." Being a fan of legend, I hope he'll add something from the tough cowboys of the Old West like, "And barista, you make that soy instead of milk... or else."


  1. Well said, Lloyd. I can't imagine the level of paranoia that would cause someone to bring a loaded gun into a Starbucks. And you make a good point that no permit is required to carry guns openly in most states. That means that people who buy handguns through private sales - no background check required - can carry guns in this manner in public. That means there is no assurance whatsoever that these people will be "law-abiding," sane or non-violent.

  2. Funny AND insightful! I love your column, Lloyd!!

  3. I agree with Annonymous #1 at 10:22AM - Who would know if anyone is a law abiding citizen if there is no need to have a permit? It is scary to think that anyone can get a gun without a permit and a background check. You could have a mentally ill person who shouldn't have a gun in the first place. Well, one can stop going to Starbucks for two reasons now, the first the cost of a cuppa is outrageous and 2nd, this gun issue. There are plenty of other places that sell just as good a cup of coffee as Starbucks.

  4. One of the reasons Starbucks coffee is so expensive is because, I have heard, they do provide their employees with medical coverage, and other benefits that many other employers do not provide. As for the guns, I would be concerned with any state that allows anyone to purchase a handgun without the appropriate waiting time, investigation, and fingerprinting, background checks, etc. Being a Californian, we are not allowed to purchase handguns without the appropriate "cooling off" period, and the aforementioned checks. Of course, the criminals can still find guns for sale on the streets and through private sales, but they won't be carrying them where everyone can see them either. I think most people that carry them visibly, probably are saferto be around than those that don't. I don't feel intimidated by guns. I used to be licensed to carry, but never carried one. I could do more with my hands than a gun could provide, without noise, and without intimidation. Self-defense training is still the best tactic. Perhaps the ones carrying them are just trying to tell the people that they will be prepared in case there is a need. Why don't they just ask the people why they are carrying???

  5. I am a resident of Michigan that went through the process of obtaining a conceled license to carry 9 years ago. It required 5 days of classrom and range trainind as well as a 4 hour session with the county prosecuting attorney as to the legal responsibilities. I do not carry a concealed weapon most of the time but know that I have the legal right to do so when I feel the need to do so.


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