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.
Trader disclosure: On Sept. 18, 2013, the following stocks and commodities mentioned or intended to be mentioned on CNBC's "Fast Money" were owned by the "Fast Money" traders: Dan Nathan is long NFLX; Dan Nathan is long IBM; Dan Nathan is long TSLA; Dan Nathan is long CAT; Dan Nathan is long MSFT; Dan Nathan is long FXI; Dan Nathan is long WFM; Dan Nathan is long ZNGA; Dan Nathan is long XCO; Dan Nathan is long SPY; Tim Seymour is long BAC; Tim Seymour is long INTC; Tim Seymour is long NOK; Brian Kelly is long oil; Brian Kelly is long natural gas; Guy Adami is long C; Guy Adami is long GS; Guy Adami is long INTC; Guy Adami is long MSFT; Guy Adami is long AGU; Guy Adami is long NUE; Guy Adami is long BTU; Guy Adami's wife, Linda Snow, works at Merck.