Gun rights advocates Friday are holding a nationwide "Starbucks Appreciation Day" where they bring in their guns and buy product as a thank-you to the coffee chain for letting customers carry weapons in stores.
But the event is drawing ire from a gun-control group in Newtown, Conn., the site of last December's massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School.
"Our community is still healing and we find it reprehensible that they are picking Newtown to rally," David Ackert, a spokesman for the Newtown Action Alliance, told WVIT-TV. "It is disturbing to think that tomorrow night you and your children may be sitting in Starbucks when people carrying guns walk through the door."
The Newtown Action Alliance also posted this statement on its Facebook page Thursday:
We wonder why it isn't okay to appreciate Starbucks at the same time appreciate the sensitive nature of the gesture in our neighborhood half a year after our community was ravaged by #gunviolence. There are 5 other Starbucks locations within about 15 miles of ours to choose from.
Adding fuel to the fire is the location of the Newtown Starbucks in question—right next to the Saint Rose of Lima Church where many of the funerals for the Sandy Hook victims were held.
From the Starbucks Appreciation Day Facebook page:
Starbucks is allowing us to lawfully carry firearms in their store. Recently, they have been the target of unjust attacks from certain groups that do not support our right to bear arms. We will thank starbucks for standing up for our right to bear arms by going there on Friday, August 9th.
We ask that if you choose to carry a firearm during this event that you follow all local, state, and national laws; and if you choose not to carry that you wear pro-gun rights apparel.
Matt Botalli, of Ridgefield, Conn., commented on the CT Open Carry Facebook page that he and others from the Connecticut Citizens Defense League will be at the Newtown Starbucks from 6 to 7 p.m. Friday to show support, WVIT reported.
"Come down, meet me and my friends. I guarantee there will not be a safer public place in all of CT," Botalli wrote on his own Facebook page.
But the president of the Connecticut Citizens Defense League, Scott Wilson, said Thursday that his organization isn't behind the Newtown event.
"Patronizing Starbucks was not a planned or coordinated event by the leadership of CCDL in any way shape or form," he said in a statement. "Individual members from CCDL decided to meet on their own, and pay homage to the coffee chain."
"Our stores are gathering places for the communities we serve," the statement said. "We respect the diversity of our customers. We realize there are deep-standing passions on gun ownership. We abide by the laws that permit open carry. However, where those laws do not exist, open carry in Starbucks in prohibited ... We encourage both customers and advocacy groups on both sides to share their input with their public officials. We are extremely sensitive to the issue of gun violence in our society, and we believe by supporting local laws is the best way for us to provide a safe environment for both our partners and customers."
The Newtown Starbucks store could not immediately be reached for comment.
(H/T: Huffington Post)