On August 10 of last year, a protester showed up at the site of a New Hampshire presentation by the President of the United States openly carrying a 9mm semiautomatic handgun and carrying a sign inspired by the Thomas Jefferson quote that “the tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.”
That evening, the protester was asked by Chris Matthews on the MSNBC news program Hardball whether his gun had been loaded.
He responded,” Wow. Who would be silly enough to carry an unloaded firearm?”
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Yesterday, at the annual meeting of shareholders of the Starbucks Coffee Company, where “the issue of Starbucks allowing guns in stores came up repeatedly during a question-and-answer session,” the Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer of the company made a glaring mistake in discussing Starbucks’ gun policy with his shareholders.
He said the guns being brought into Starbucks stores are all unloaded.
“I do want to clarify something you said that is not right,” he told one shareholder. “You can’t walk into Starbucks with a loaded gun. So that’s not the issue. The issue is, the law allows you to walk in with a weapon that people can see that is unloaded.”
I was shocked by the mistake, but also saddened by my recollections of how many times a similar phrase – “I thought the gun was unloaded” – is heard after a tragic shooting.
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Ask Griffin Dix, a friend of mine, and a former member of the Board of Trustees of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. His son. Kenzo Dix, died on May 29, 1994, when his 15-year-old friend thought the gun was unloaded.
In Tennessee, three days before Christmas last year, a teen was killed by another “unloaded gun.”
“They were handling or examining it for some reason,” the sheriff said. “Evidently, they thought it was unloaded. The 16-year-old pulled the trigger and the bullet hit the 19-year-old in the forehead and killed him.”
One of my best friends from grade school still has the bullet in his back from the summer after ninth grade, when someone said “let’s scare Scott” and thought the gun was unloaded.
A month after I was elected Mayor of Fort Wayne, Indiana, one of our police recruits – whose family I knew – was killed in a training exercise because the training officer mistakenly thought he had unloaded his gun.
I could go on and on.
Mr. Schultz, you were wrong. Someone on your staff may have misled you, or maybe they don’t understand how weak our gun laws are in this country, but only two states, California and Utah, require that “open carried” guns be unloaded. In 44 states, including your home state of Washington, the guns not only can be loaded, but almost certainly are loaded. Remember that Presidential protester’s statement: “who would be silly enough to carry an unloaded gun?”
There is a growing segment of radical extremists who want to carry their guns anywhere. Some of them see themselves as an armed front guard fighting policies that they oppose, and some believe, as NRA head Wayne LaPierre said recently, “the guys with the guns make the rules.”
And these people now have a favorite store brand: Starbucks.
It’s time that the company change its policy. Before one of those “unloaded guns” causes another tragedy.