No guns please, we're Starbucks
Coffee chain Starbucks has said guns are no longer "welcome" in its US cafes, although it has stopped short of an outright ban.
It is walking a fine line to address the concerns of both gun rights and gun control advocates which reflects how heated the issue has become, particularly in light of recent mass shootings.
Most states allow people to openly carry licensed guns and many companies do not have laws banning firearms in their stores. But Starbucks has become a target for gun control advocates, in part because of its liberal-leaning corporate image. In turn, gun rights advocates have been galvanised by the company's decision to defer to local laws.
In an interview, Starbucks chief executive Howard Schultz said the decision came as a result of the growing frequency of "Starbucks Appreciation Days," in which gun rights advocates turned up at Starbucks cafes with firearms.
He said the events misrepresented the company's stance on the issue and the demonstrations "have made our customers uncomfortable."
He hoped people would honour the request not to bring in guns but said the company will still serve those who do.
It plans adverts in major national newspapers to explain the decision, pointing to recent activities by both gun rights and gun control advocates at its stores, saying that it has been "thrust unwillingly" into the middle of the national debate over firearms.
As for the "Starbucks Appreciation Days" being staged by gun rights advocates, it stresses: "To be clear: we do not want these events in our stores."
Shannon Watts, founder of the gun reform group Moms Demand Action, noted that Starbucks has taken strong stances on other issues. Earlier this year, for example, the company banned smoking within 25 feet of its stores, wherever its leases allowed. The idea was to extend its no-smoking policy to the outdoor seating areas.
"There's a big difference in the connotation of someone holding a gun and someone holding a cigarette," Mr Schultz said.