Guns not part of 'Starbucks experience': CEO
Guns don't have a place in the nation's nearly 7,000 Starbucks locations, the coffee retailing giant's chief executive, Howard Schultz, told CNBC on Wednesday.
"Starbucks is not a policymaker, and we are not pro- or anti-gun," he said. "However, over the last few months or so, we have seen ourselves thrust into this debate in a way that is not consistent with the values and guiding principles of our company."
Schultz cited the use of Starbucks stores as the site for demonstrations by both gun-control advocates and gun enthusiasts in the months following the deadly Dec. 12 mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.
(Read more: Starbucks asks U.S. patrons to leave guns at home)
He said that people on both sides of the issue had used the cafés "as staging grounds for their own position as recently as last month. And in view of that, Starbucks has been mischaracterized and misrepresented on either side of the issue."
Schultz also said that laws that allow residents to carry firearms have been "quite confusing and ambiguous for many people around the country."
(Read more: Starbucks boosts its outlook amid strong sales)
As a result, "when a person legally is carrying a gun and decides to walk into a Starbucks store, I think our customers and young children are tremendously uncomfortable and somewhat jarred from the experience," he said. "And we've just come to the conclusion that we're not anti-gun, we're not pro-gun, but guns should not be part of the Starbucks experience."
Schultz emphasized that Starbucks was not issuing an outright ban on guns at its stores, nor would it enforce its request that patrons not carry weapons inside.
"So anyone who does not respectfully honor the policy, we're still going to serve you, we're going to honor your business as a customer, and we'll go on with our day," he said. "But we think the vast majority of Americans will understand the policy, will think it's reasonable, and most people will, I think, respect the request."
Shares of Starbucks rose 1.7 percent to close at $77.33.
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