Friday, September 20, 2013

Why Starbucks Has To Step In On Guns

Starbucks' firearms decision is the first step to setting boundaries for America's gun-loving culture. Who will be next?

The only way to reduce gun violence in a country that won't give up its guns is to set cultural boundaries on what's acceptable and what's not. And some members of Corporate America have realized it's partly up to them to do that.
Starbucks CEO Howard Shultz this week "respectfully" asked customers not to bring guns into his establishments. The request is the latest, and perhaps highest-profile, example of firearm restrictions put in place by corporate entities for their customers. Starbucks didn't outright ban weapons on its premises, but other companies like Whole Foods and Peets Coffee and Tea have banned them.
Even in open-carry states, such as Arizona, retailers routinely ask that weapons remain off their premises. In Phoenix, for example, it is not uncommon to see a signs on restaurants stating that firearms are not permitted inside.
Gun-control advocates agree that changing the country's cultural view of guns is an important, and often overlooked, factor in curbing gun violence. Legal changes alone, like expanded background checks, won't stop gun-related suicides or accidents.
"You have to change social norms," said Dan Gross, president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. "There's not enough focus on this big picture. It doesn't tend to drive enough of the conversation historically."
Corporate America, particularly the retail sector, has a lot of sway in terms of social norms. And their actions have the distinct advantage of being removed, at least a little bit, from the polarized political debate on gun control.
Think about designated smoking areas or dress codes at restaurants. It's a lot easier for a manager of a Starbucks to tell a latte drinker that it's not cool to bring his gun in with him than it is for Congress or state Legislatures to outlaw them at all coffee shops.

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