Starbucks first got drawn into the gun debate several years ago, and has tried to stay neutral. Spokesman Zack Hutson told the Washington Post Thursday that “our longstanding position is to comply with local laws in the communities we serve. We think that’s the right way to ensure a safe environment for our partners,” meaning both employees and customers.
In 2012 gun opponents created a Facebook event calling for a Valentine's Day boycott of the coffee chain over its refusal to ban guns from their stores. Ed Levine, founder of Virginia Open Carry, started a rival event for gun supporters. The day has changed to 2/22 this year in honor of the second amendment, and Levine hopes it will become an annual day of support for Starbucks by gun owners.
Last year Levine said he would be "making it rain with $2 bills at Starbucks." He even started a website for people who "love guns and coffee." But he did encourage respect for the coffee company's lawfully neutral stance. While it's common for gun activists to organize group open carry outings, Levine says that since Starbucks isn't explicitly pro-gun or anti-gun, rallying large groups would be unfair to the coffee shops.
"I don't think it's really right that we have big groups of people showing up at Starbucks open carrying or whatnot else. I don't want to have 30 people show up at my local Starbucks, I'd rather have people trickle into Starbucks around the country, buy their coffee, hang out if they want to, maybe even have a friend or two, but I don't there should be big gatherings where we try an pack a Starbucks with gun owners and leave the next day and they're back to their normal business."