Guns at Starbucks? Pushing the right to bear arms in public
Gun owners in California have been wearing their handguns in coffee shops and restaurants. The guns are unloaded and legal, but some citizens and police departments are wary.
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“There is a growing ‘open carry’ movement among gun activists, who seek to make a political statement by gathering in coffee shops, restaurants and other public locations with their guns openly on display,” the Brady Campaign said in a statement. “Given the absence of meaningful regulation of open carry in the vast majority of states, more and more Americans will be faced with the intimidation and danger of confronting guns in public places.”Skip to next paragraph
So far Starbucks hasn’t kicked out its gun-carrying customers, prompting praise from open carry advocates.
Police departments uneasy
In a September 2009 memo to his officers, Sunnyvale, Calif., Deputy Police Chief Mark Stivers wrote, “To be very frank, I do not like the fact people can carry an unloaded gun in a holster in plain view in public. However the law says they can and we uphold the law.”
Nathan Wolanyk, an open carry advocate from San Diego, says the movement is as much about informing the public as it is about educating police departments who, he says, are often unaware of the unloaded open carry law.
Deputy Chief Stivers cautioned his officers, who are allowed to inspect unconcealed weapons to ensure they are unloaded, adhere to the law because open carry proponents “may want to provoke an incident” to bring a law suit against the city.
But Mr. Wolanyk and others say their movement is largely about changing perceptions about gun ownership.
“If all you see are guns in the media used in a violent manner, that’s your perception of guns,” he says. “When we’re out in public with them, we’re interacting with the public in a very nice manner. We’re showing that these are tools that are used for self defense.”