You can now read 5 articles in a month for free on BostonGlobe.com. Read as much as you want anywhere and anytime for just 99¢.

Red Sox Live

0

1

▼  4th Inning 2 outs

Starbucks wants guns out of its stores

In recent months, Starbucks has been drawn into the gun control debate. The company has become a target for gun control advocates, in part because of its corporate image.

Mario Tama/Getty Images

In recent months, Starbucks has been drawn into the gun control debate. The company has become a target for gun control advocates, in part because of its corporate image.

NEW YORK — Starbucks has always set itself apart by taking strong positions on progressive political issues. Now that reputation has landed the company in the middle of the heated national debate over gun laws.

On Thursday, the Seattle-based company will run full-page ads in major newspapers, telling customers that guns are no longer welcome in its cafes. But Starbucks is stopping short of an outright ban, exposing the fine line it needs to walk on a highly divisive issue.

Continue reading below

‘‘We are not pro-gun or antigun,’’ chief executive Howard Schultz said in an interview, noting that customers will still be served if they choose to a carry gun.

The move comes as the company has finds itself at the center of a fight it didn’t start. In recent months, gun control advocates have been pressuring Starbucks to ban firearms, while supporters of gun rights have celebrated the company’s decision to defer to local laws. About a month ago, Starbucks shut down a store in Newtown, Conn., early to avoid a demonstration by gun rights advocates. They had planned to stage a ‘‘Starbucks Appreciation Day,’’ bringing their firearms and turning the company into an unwitting supporter of gun rights.

Support for guns runs counter to the Starbucks image. For some, part of the brand’s attraction is the company’s liberal-leaning support of gay marriage and environmental issues. At least some of the company’s more than $13 billion in annual revenue is derived from people who agree with its views.

Continue reading it below

But with some 7,000 company-owned stores across the country — in red states and blue — Starbucks is being forced to tread carefully with its special blend of politics and commerce.

Many states allow people to carry licensed guns in some way, but some businesses exercise their right to ban firearms. They can do so because their locations are considered private property. Starbucks isn’t the only company that doesn’t ban guns, but it has become a target for gun control advocates, in part because of its corporate image.

‘‘This is a coffee company that has championed progressive issues,’’ said Shannon Watts, founder of the gun reform group Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America. ‘‘They’ve positioned themselves about being about the human spirit — that was so at odds with this policy that allowed guns inside their stores.’’

The company’s mission statement is to ‘‘inspire and nurture the human spirit’’ and over the years, it has taken strong positions on a number of thorny issues. This year, 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, regardless of state laws on the matter.

At the company’s annual meeting in March, a shareholder stood to criticize Starbucks’ support of marriage equality. Schultz told the man it was a free country and that he could sell his shares.

Starbucks has also been vocal about its health care benefits for workers. And the company says it only does business with coffee farmers who pay workers decent wages and farm in an environmentally friendly way.

Such stances explain why Moms Demand Action, which was founded the day after the mass shootings in Newtown, has been urging Starbucks to ban guns with its ‘‘Skip Starbucks Saturdays.”

In turn, gun rights advocates have been galvanized by the company’s decision to defer to local laws and staged the ‘‘Starbucks Appreciation Days.’’

Schultz said the events mischaracterized the company’s stance on the issue and the demonstrations ‘‘have made our customers uncomfortable.’’

He said he hopes people will honor the request not to bring in guns but says the company will nevertheless serve those who do.

‘‘We will not ask you to leave,’’ he said.

The Seattle-based company plans to buy ad space in major national newspapers including The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, and USA Today to run an open letter from Schultz explaining the decision.

Loading comments...
Subscriber Log In

We hope you've enjoyed your 5 free articles'

Stay informed with unlimited access to Boston’s trusted news source.

  • High-quality journalism from the region’s largest newsroom
  • Convenient access across all of your devices
  • Today’s Headlines daily newsletter
  • Subscriber-only access to exclusive offers, events, contests, eBooks, and more
  • Less than 25¢ a week
Marketing image of BostonGlobe.com
Marketing image of BostonGlobe.com
Already a subscriber?
Your city. Your stories. Your Globe.
Yours FREE for two weeks.
Enjoy free unlimited access to Globe.com for the next two weeks.
Limited time only - No credit card required!
BostonGlobe.com complimentary digital access has been provided to you, without a subscription, for free starting today and ending in 14 days. After the free trial period, your free BostonGlobe.com digital access will stop immediately unless you sign up for BostonGlobe.com digital subscription. Current print and digital subscribers are not eligible for the free trial.
Thanks & Welcome to Globe.com
You now have unlimited access for the next two weeks.
BostonGlobe.com complimentary digital access has been provided to you, without a subscription, for free starting today and ending in 14 days. After the free trial period, your free BostonGlobe.com digital access will stop immediately unless you sign up for BostonGlobe.com digital subscription. Current print and digital subscribers are not eligible for the free trial.