Excerpted from The New York Daily News: Activists rallying for the right to bear arms came face to face with Newtown’s grieving community on Friday—and neither side liked what they saw.
The two groups butted heads on Starbucks Appreciation Day at a coffee store less than two miles away from Sandy Hook Elementary School, where 26 children and educators lost their lives to gun violence in December.
Even though managers closed up before the event, about 30 gun rights advocates reportedly lingered outside wearing holstered pistols. They were thanking the national chain for complying with state and local laws that allow people to openly carry weapons into stores. But for some Newtown residents, memories of the tragic shooting were still too raw.
“How can they even think of being here?” asked Barbara Kraushaar, whose former neighbor Adam Lanza was responsible for the massacre.
“It is so ‘In your face!’ It’s plain disgusting and heartless,” she told The New York Times. Keep reading
Excerpted from The New York Times: The nation’s gun owners declared Friday Starbucks Appreciation Day, but in Newtown, Conn., not everyone seemed very appreciative.
Instead, the local Starbucks closed five hours early, disappointing some gun owners who had planned to show up wearing holstered pistols to make a statement in favor of gun rights and Starbucks’ policies.
The event had already infuriated many residents still reeling from the murder of 26 children and educators at Sandy Hook Elementary School in December.
A sign at the coffee shop read: “Out of respect for Newtown and everything our community has been through, we have decided to close our store early today.”
Earlier, however, more than two dozen gun rights supporters, some wearing pistols, camouflage or Connecticut Citizens Defense League T-shirts, showed up to show their support. The company said it had no participation in the event. Gun critics also turned out to voice their opposition.
Long after the store shut down around 4:30, people on both sides of the gun divide stayed outside in the heavy rain, the gun supporters standing on the left, many smoking cigarettes, and the gun opponents to the right, holding lighted candles.
“Little do these ignorant people know that we come in here every day for coffee, carrying our weapons,” said Tom Catalina, 64, of Newtown. “Starbucks has always been open about their support of the Second Amendment and our right to carry, whether open or concealed. Guns make people safer.”
The anti-gun crowd wound up getting their coffee and doughnuts from Dunkin’ Donuts down the road, and passed out pins that read, “Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America.”
One of them was Barbara Kraushaar, 62, who lives around the corner from the home of Adam Lanza, the gunman who killed the students and school employees at Sandy Hook on Dec. 14. “Hey! Did you know you’re not allowed to smoke on Starbucks property?” she yelled to one of the men carrying a gun. “You don’t care about anything, just what pertains to you!”
The man walked away a bit but did not put out his cigarette.
Tears started streaming down Ms. Kraushaar’s cheeks. “How can they even think of being here?” she asked. “It is so ‘In your face!’ It’s plain disgusting and heartless.”
Earlier, the Newtown Action Alliance issued a statement, discouraging gun rights groups from holding Starbucks Appreciation Day in Newtown.
“Our community is still healing, and we find it reprehensible that they are picking Newtown to rally,” the statement said.
Po Murray, vice chairwoman of the group, called the plan “tasteless and insensitive” and said that just as Starbucks does not allow smoking within 25 feet of its buildings, it should take a stand on gun violence by not allowing customers to carry weapons there.
Usually associated with latte and cappuccino rather than Smith & Wesson, Starbucks has drawn praise from gun owners and criticism from anti-gun groups for its policy allowing people to openly carry guns in states, like Connecticut, that allow it.
The National Gun Victims Action Council said that unlike companies like California Pizza Kitchen, Peet’s Coffee and Tea and Ikea, Starbucks had declined to ban guns from its stores. Starbucks said it simply follows the laws as they exist in all states.
The anti-gun group has identified Starbucks as its first economic target and has sponsored a two-year-old boycott of the company by “gun victims, survivors, their friends, family members, faith groups and all who want sane gun laws.” It says that the boycott has cost the company $11.5 million a year, and that it plans to step up its pressure on Starbucks in the future.
The group says the efforts to openly display handguns at restaurants and coffee shops are part of a national effort to “normalize the carrying of guns in public places.”
It said: “Starbucks’ pro-gun policy on open carry makes it an active supporter of the gun lobby’s agenda to put more guns in more places in American life — and it must stop.”
On the other hand, gun owners have singled out Starbucks for praise and support. A Facebook page said gun supporters should thank Starbucks “for standing up for our right to bear arms by going there on Friday.”
Starbucks has found itself in the middle of controversy before, mostly on the other side of the political spectrum, over its support for gay marriage. Keep reading