For quite some time now, I have tried to understand why The Brady Campaign insists on picking a fight with Starbucks over something that should not be a big issue. The claim found at the bottom of this latest article describes the Campaign as seeking “to enact and enforce sensible gun laws, regulations and public policies” and I have long failed to see how that goal is not accomplished here.
We have two coffee houses, Peet’s Coffee and Starbucks, each with a different policy about customers carrying guns. Now, it seems sensible to me that those customers who feel that Peet’s no-gun policy creates a safer environment would buy their coffee there, those who felt that Starbucks had the right idea would buy their coffee there, and everyone who didn’t care either way would probably go to whichever was closer. This not only seems sensible to me, but it seems just: private property owners have the right to restrict what is allowed on their premises.
Moreover, I find Starbucks differentiating between what customers and employees are allowed to do reasonable. Employees are allowed to take orders, customers are not. Customers are allowed to leave whenever they please, employees must wait for the end of their shift. The idea that the privileges and responsibilities of customers and employees are different is rather obvious.
I would understand Brady asking Starbucks to change, and even telling everyone who would listen to avoid their locations until there is a policy change, but once the policy has been decided, why keep discussing it and pressuring? It seems to me that the argument “they would also be complying with the law if they did what we say” flies right in the face of a property owner’s rights.
The question becomes, if the law leaves the decision up to Starbucks, and there is a reasonable alternative, why push so hard? The answer Brady has consistently come back with is other customers and employees are in danger because of the guns. Despite the obvious point that those other customers and employees must not feel strongly about the issue, or they would be down the road at Peet’s, the question now becomes what about the guns is causing the danger?
This may sound like an elementary question quickly answered “someone could get shot,” but if that is the sum total of the danger, then Brady should be pushing for a ban on all guns. We allow these people to keep the guns in their home, where they are obviously still capable of shooting. How is Starbucks different from the owner’s home?
A Starbucks location probably has more people, but then the question is no longer about complying with an existing law, it is about writing a new one that prohibits guns from locations that are frequented by more than a certain number of people per day. A Starbucks location also puts a gun owner in contact with more strangers than would be in the average home, yet once again we’re no longer talking about an existing law, but one that prohibits a gun owner from meeting new people.
So, I pose the question: in terms of safety to those in close proximity, what practical difference is there between a gun in the holster at home, and a gun in the holster at Starbucks? In both locations the gun could be accidentally or intentionally fired causing injury or death. In both locations a property owner has made a decision about what is allowed on their privately owned property.
This is where it gets really interesting. Remember that statement about Brady wanting sensible laws? They have a law on the books, one that allows informed people to make decisions about their own safety. So why aren’t they satisfied with a business that they admit is complying with the law? The only conclusion I can draw is that Brady does not feel that a law allowing decisions about guns on private property up to the property owner is sensible. Brady’s true colors are showing. For years I heard some of my more extreme friends swear that the Brady Campaign and their allies were not just after gun control increases that we felt did not prevent crime, but had the long term goal of ending private gun ownership. Until now I disagreed, yet the proof is before us: they have taken the stance that decisions about guns on private property cannot be left up to the property owner, and decisions about coming in contact with guns cannot be left up to individual citizens. If they do not respect a business owner’s property rights, why would they respect my rights as a home owner?
In the same way that people are free to avoid my house because I keep firearms, they are free to avoid Starbucks. If the Brady Campaign was sure of its position, they would be focused on getting people to avoid Starbucks. If they feel that people cannot make an informed decision on where to get a cup of coffee, how can they feel people can be trusted with gun questions in the home? The intrusion into private property has started, and I apologize profusely to everyone I rolled my eyes at when they said Brady was coming for the shotgun under my bed.