The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence has Starbucks in its sights.

The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence has Starbucks in its sights. The D.C. gun-control organization is demanding that the corporate coffee giant ban gun owners from carrying a firearm into any Starbucks coffeehouse.An online petition is being circulated on the Brady Campaign’s Web site, and the group’s president, Paul Helmke, has sent a letter to Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz to “reverse Starbucks’ current policy allowing persons to carry guns, both openly and concealed” in their stores.A graphic of the famous Starbucks mermaid is shown brandishing a pair of pistols while flanked by coffee beans and a .357 Magnum hollow-point cartridge. Petition signers are encouraged to tell Starbucks to “Keep guns out”. The Brady Campaign claims to have gathered more than 10,000 online responses in favor of the petition.The focal point of this controversy stems from the growing popularity of the Open Carry movement. It is legal in 43 states, including Washington, for gun owners to carry a handgun without having to conceal it. In January, California Open Carriers began holding meetings in restaurants and coffeehouses, attracting media attention and prompting executives from Peet’s Coffee to prohibit openly displaying firearms in all of their locations. Similar meetings took place in Virginia last year.The Brady Campaign wants Starbucks to take matters one step further by not only prohibiting Open Carry, but also gun owners with Concealed Pistol Licenses, in all of its locations across the country. “Every bar in America has a policy like this,” said Peter Hamm, a spokesperson for the Brady Campaign. “If it’s good enough for bars and restaurants, it should be good enough for Starbucks.”Starbucks responded to questions with a tightly worded statement, “For Starbucks, the safety of our customers and partners is a paramount concern. We have existing security protocols in place to handle situations related to safety in our stores. We will continue to adhere closely to local, state and federal laws and the counsel of law enforcement regarding this issue.”Parsing corporate public affairs jargon can be dicey. But at face value, it does not look like Starbucks will be changing its policy regarding firearms. Nor does it seem to be heeding the Brady Campaign’s petition.Last May, SW profiled a local Open Carry chapter whose members volunteered to pick up litter along Interstate 5 in Fife. The goal of the Open Carry movement is to destigmatize firearms and gun owners. If more and more people see someone carrying a handgun, behaving in a normal and law-abiding manner by shopping at the grocery store or drinking an espresso at the local coffee stand, the less regular people will have to fear from guns themselves–or so the reasoning goes. The Brady Campaign, however, contends the sight of a man carrying a Colt 1911 in a tactical holster only frightens and intimidates other coffee customers, particularly families with small children. So do jittery hands make for itchy trigger fingers? Hamm concedes that there have been no incidents of violence involving lawful gun owners at any Starbucks. However, nervous java junkies with an anti-gun bent have called the police on folks legally open-carrying. Hamm said this is an unnecessary waste of the police resources–when an officer has to stop and question every time a pistol owner purchases a Venti Chai–and that they should leave their guns at home.