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."