Starbucks Tells Customers: Leave Guns At Home
Starbucks has asked customers not to take firearms into its US stores, reversing a policy that allowed guns where permitted under local laws.
Bosses at the coffee chain took the decision amid fears the brand was being held up as a champion of the pro-gun movement.
It had previously said customers could take weapons into stores in states with open carry laws - which allows firearms to be carried openly in public.
An open letter from chief executive Howard Schultz said there was no outright ban on weapons in its branches, but Starbucks had been "thrust unwillingly into the middle of the (gun) debate".
"That's why I am writing today with a respectful request that customers no longer bring firearms into our stores or outdoor seating areas," he wrote.
In August, gun rights advocates held a national "Starbucks Appreciation Day" to thank the firm for its stance.
Events linked to the day included one in Newtown, Connecticut. In December, 20 children and six adults were shot dead in an elementary school in the town.
Starbucks closed that branch before the event was scheduled to begin.
Mr Schultz said: "Pro-gun activists have used our stores as a political stage for media events misleadingly called 'Starbucks Appreciation Days' that disingenuously portray Starbucks as a champion of 'open carry'. To be clear: we do not want these events in our stores.
"We believe that gun policy should be addressed by government and law enforcement - not by Starbucks and our store partners."
The letter explained its decision not to issue an outright ban on guns in its nearly 7,000 company-owned cafes, saying this would potentially require staff to confront armed customers.
The Seattle-based company hoped to give "responsible gun owners a chance to respect its request", Mr Schultz said.