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    Newtown Families Urge Starbucks CEO To Ban Guns

    A Newtown, Connecticut, coalition published an open letter to Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz asking the company to change its policy allowing customers to carry guns in its stores. They also invited him to have coffee with them.

    The letter was published Friday afternoon on the website of the Newtown Action Alliance, a grassroots organization founded by Newtown residents following the shooting at Sandy Hook elementary on Dec. 14, 2012.

    August 23, 2013

    Dear Mr. Schultz,

    As members of the community of Newtown, Connecticut, we are writing you today because during our search for solace in wake of the events of last December it has come to our attention that your company continues to allow guns to be carried into its stores. Although we here in Newtown love our Starbucks, we are very concerned that your policy undermines the safety and wellbeing of our citizens.

    As the tragedy that befell our community last year demonstrates, and as you well know, guns are dangerous. Starbucks itself prohibits guns in its corporate headquarters and other companies, such as PEET'S Coffee, IKEA, and Disney, have exercised their legal right to ban guns on their private premises. Since your company has been a champion of admirable causes in the past, such as LGBT rights and environmental sustainability, some gun owners in this country cite Starbucks' stance on this issue as justification of the reasonableness of their choice to carry guns anywhere and everywhere, even into a place as unthreatening as a coffee shop. Your core customers are not such people; your core customers are people like us who have come to understand how guns jeopardize the stability of any environment. They are people who have come to understand that to prevent another Sandy Hook, we as a society must prioritize the sanctity of human life over the individual's "right to carry."

    While we thank you for preventing gun carriers from senselessly inflicting further emotional trauma on our town by closing your Newtown location early last Friday, August 9th, we ask you this question: what about tomorrow and the day after that? What do you say to your customers in Wyoming, Texas, and Florida; where guns have injured three innocent people at Starbucks in the past two years? We ask you to—once and for all—give Starbucks customers everywhere the same protection that you afforded Newtown last Friday. If you make the decision to ban guns, your company has the chance to honor the 26 innocent lives lost here in Newtown and the 32,000 Americans lost annually to gun violence by becoming a leader in educating the public about firearm safety. We know by having observed and admired your continuing advocacy that your company not only understands but takes pride in its responsibility to promote the growth of a safe and just society. That is why we would like you to invite you to join us for a cup of coffee at our Starbucks in Newtown at a time and date of your convenience so we can talk about your company's policy and gun violence in America. For the sake of your company, customers and employees across this country, please help us foster a culture of peace and ban guns from your stores.


    Newtown Coalition For Corporate Responsibility

    In a statement Friday, Dave Ackert, founder of the Newtown Action Alliance, told BuzzFeed:

    "I would just like to reiterate the call on Starbucks' management to afford families and retail employees across the country the same peace of mind that they afford their employees and visitors to in their corporate headquarters in Seattle, by declaring their stores as gun free zones too. This would also be a smart business move as they rejoin the ranks of corporations that are contributing to the cultural evolution away from the days of the gun toting wild Wild West, and lead the way toward a modern day society by providing a stress free, peaceful environment for their core customer base."

    The letter includes the signatures of Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy, Senators Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy, families of Sandy Hook elementary shooting victims, and local Starbucks baristas, as well as other Newtown residents.

    Jessica Hill / AP

    Carlee Soto (left) and Jillian Soto, sisters of slain teacher Victoria Soto, hold hands during a 26-second moment of silence at Edmond Town Hall honoring the 20 children and six adults gunned down at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

    In addition, gun control group Moms Demand Action are sponsoring a nationwide boycott of Starbucks on Saturday, Aug. 24 as part of their campaign to pressure Starbucks to change their gun permit policy.

    Earlier this month on Aug. 9, a Starbucks Appreciation Day was organized by gun enthusiasts where gun owners were encouraged to bring their guns or wear pro-gun apparel to their local Starbucks and post photos to Facebook.

    On Aug. 9, the Newtown Starbucks made the decision to close early after a local gun group organized a meet-up set for that evening at the store.

    Starbucks communication rep Zack Hutson told BuzzFeed Friday, "We welcome the opportunity to meet with the Newtown family members who have signed this letter to discuss their concerns."