How Starbucks got drawn into the gun control debate

Ryu Spaeth
The Week
Starbucks employees in Virginia are in for a locked-and-loaded treat today.

It's "Gun Owners Support Starbucks Day" in Virginia — whether the java giant likes it or not

Starbucks customers in Virginia may get an eyeful of weaponry on Friday, which has been proclaimed "Gun Owners Support Starbucks Day" by gun enthusiasts in the state. Led by organizer Ed Levine, the founder of Virginia Open Carry, gun owners are being encouraged to openly pack heat as they line up for their orange mocha frappuccinos.

Why Starbucks? The company has been loath to enter the debate over gun violence, rebuffing attempts by gun-control advocates to bar guns from their stores in states where open-carry laws are in effect. The company's policy is merely "to comply with local laws in the communities we serve," spokesman Zack Hutson tells The Washington Post. "We think that's the right way to ensure a safe environment."

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That position has won the full-throated support of Levine and others, which, of course, has paradoxically drawn Starbucks into a debate it has no interest in being a part of. "Some anti-gunners wanted citizens such like myself kicked out of Starbucks for carrying gun," Levine told a local CBS affiliate. "And Starbucks said, 'Hey, we're here to sell cakes and coffee.'"

And why is the event being held today? Well, it's February 22, a trio of twos that has proved impossible to resist for ardent fans of the Second Amendment. Levine last year promised he would be "making it rain $2 bills at Starbucks," and he has kept his vow, reportedly stuffing his pockets with $2 bills to shower on Starbucks employees as tips.

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