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Starbucks should stand up to gun-toting bullies

Would the coffeehouse serve customers wearing nothing but their underwear? That's legal too.

There is a name for gun-toting tough guys who parade their weapons at Starbucks: Bully. There is a name for Starbucks management: Coward.

The insanity that any nut case who can beg, borrow or steal a gun should have the right to carry it any place he pleases is in danger of making this country even more of a refuge for dangerous braggadocio.

Taking a gun into a coffee shop full of people checking their cell phones, mothers ordering hot chocolate for their youngsters and workers reading the morning paper is beyond the pale, regardless of how gun advocates read the law.

Starbucks says it's legal to carry a gun in public in Washington, so bring it on. It's also legal to walk down the street without your pants, or while carrying a broadsword or playing your boom box at top volume. Would Starbucks allow that in its coffee houses? Has it been that long ago that “no shirt, no shoes, no service” was universally used to keep “hippies” from respectable establishments similar to Starbucks? Was that more radical than “no guns?”

Much of this can be traced to the Bush Family's U.S. Supreme Court, which threw out Washington D.C.'s gun-control laws and is getting ready to extend its decision to the states. When that comes, look for the same bullyboys to show up at your movie theater, pizza parlor and Little League game.

The real purpose of this gun mania is to intimidate others. No surprise that when gun-control folks held a news conference to protest, the gun-carry crowd attempted to out-shout them, in the manner of right-wingers disrupting town-hall meetings last summer on health-care reform. This is the way bullies have always operated.

Their rationale seems to be that they will be ready to defend the citizenry if a bad guy comes in the coffee shop and shows a gun. If four trained and armed Lakewood police officers couldn't defend themselves in such a situation, spare me from having one of these John Waynes at the next table in Starbucks.

In fact, spare me from Starbucks. The company tells the world it doesn't want to be in the middle of a fuss over gun rights. Starbucks' cowardly bowing to the gun bullies puts it there. People with better sense should vote with their feet; we have plenty of gun-free coffee shops.

Floyd J. McKay, professor of journalism emeritus at Western Washington University, was a print and broadcast journalist in Oregon for three decades. Recipient of a DuPont-Columbia Broadcast Award for documentaries, and a Nieman Fellowship at Harvard, he is also a historian and holds a Ph.D. from the University of Washington. He resides in Bellingham and can be reached at floydmckay@comcast.net.


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