Friday, September 20, 2013

Twelve Thoughts on the current debate.

1) Lest somehow someone missed it, I never liked Starbucks coffee in the first place. If you want to score points with me, bring me Tullies/Cafe Vivace/etc. My issue has never before been political, it's just that to my palate, with the exception of their Keurig line, they appear to have an almost religious need to over-roast their beans, leaving a less than amusing charcoal flavor. They have long been in my "better than nothing" category. That their snacks seemed to go to on some kind of "health kick" and become smaller and less yummy some years ago didn't precisely build my interest in their products.Your mileage may vary - but for me, Tullies for the win. Regarding the Keurig cups, they are sort of like the Egg Sausage McMuffin at McDonalds - the one consumable product exception in a glaring wasteland of mediocrity.

I will miss their unusually tidy restrooms alongside nearly every major highway, but not the self-imposed obligation of buying something to "pay the rent."

2) I began visiting Starbucks again with any frequency to throw them my small amount of business out of gratitude for their now-previous neutrality - despite (1) above. Thus, for that time, my purchasing habits were political.

3) I do carry a gun. Big deal. And if a business politely requests I not bring a gun on their premises, concealed or open, short of being willing to go all activist about it all (and I'm not - I have enough on my plate and just don't have the time or energy) I will honor their request. Part of my decision making process is that I seriously doubt, as big as Starbucks is, that anything the Gun Community does is really going to make them change their mind.

4) In a sense I'm grateful to some small extent that I no longer feel an obligation to drink coffee or buy snacks that make it all the way to "adequate" in my estimation in an attempt to reward minimally good behavior.

5) To the extent I have mentioned boycotts, I have not done so with great force - and largely in the context that if ceasing to purchase goods I'm not especially enthralled by from a vendor setting conditions for said goods purchase that I find unacceptable - then call it a boycott. I don't.

As with a variety of other things, you can't boycott someone that has effectively requested you stop doing business with them, no matter how hard you try. You can jump up and down and shout "BOYCOTT! BOYCOTT! BOYCOTT!" all you want...but if your target has already requested that you just go's not a boycott no matter how much you jump up and down and shout.

6) In general, boycotts are silly and statistically insignificant - to the extent they are effective, IMHO, it is through symbolism rather than actual economic effect. Thus, to the extent I have used the phrase boycott, particularly in light of (5) I expressed myself poorly and further muddied the waters by expressing - for the first time since I started trying to be nice to Starbucks by - my repressed disdain for the majority of their product line flow free.

A better way to express my view, I suspect, would be to rephrase it as "Starbucks is done and has requested that no guns (at all) be brought on their premises. As someone who carries I see no reason, given that I see no gain for the 2A cause or to me personally by doing so, to deny this request in any way. At the same time I recognize that logical consistency requires that barring such a reason (or unlikely as it is, a sudden decision that I stop carrying) that I not frequent Starbucks nor purchase their products (other than, in a moment of desperation, Keurig cups). My palate thanks me (see #1), and logical consistency makes me unhappy less often."

7) I am deeply disappointed with those in the 2nd Amendment Community seemingly so eager to scapegoat the entire Open Carry community and concept for the actions of a few (classically known as "guilt by association" and usually considered as a variant on the ad hominem fallacy) Some of those are folks that I like and deeply respect, which only makes the disappointment sting all the more.

When we scapegoat the entire Open Carry community for the actions of a few imbeciles, we are no better than when our opponents scapegoat the entire 2A community for the actions, no matter how horrific, of a mentally ill or criminal person committing terrible acts with a firearm. We should do better. 

8) Similarly, I am saddened by those in the community falling into the trap known as Fallacy of the Majority  (also argumentum ad populum, or Appeal to Popularity - among other names).Summarized (read the link, highly recommended), this fallacy postulates numerical validation of a theorem - that because a lot of folks believe in some "thing" that it must then be true. This is particularly bothersome in people that you know perfectly well are far too clever to fall into this trap, yet they leap into this logical pit trap gleefully giggling all the way to the intellectual punji sticks. The reality is that belief, regardless of the number of folks holding that belief, does not affect the validity (or lack thereof) of a viewpoint or fact set.

9) I've not seen it named, but I've seen a fair amount of what I'll describe as the Fallacy of Passion in this discussion - the notion that the validity or falsehood of a statement is in any way proven by how loud one shouts, by how passionately one speaks or how enthusiastically one gestures. For good or ill, none of these variants on this fallacy have anything to do with proving or disproving anything - though they may serve to coerce false agreement or silence from the one targeted by such an approach.

10) The broad generalization that "a gun is not and never should be a political tool." I've expounded elsewhere that, like it our not, carry of a firearm is inherently political, and that done properly, open carry is generally beneficial - and that done wrong is a political and cultural disaster for the 2A community. It's hard to realize that "gun owners are evil" is a flawed premise when you never know that you've met any other than passionate political wonks and the occasional hunter.

11) I am deeply grateful for those on the blogs and among the social media that have avoided the fallacies above (and the many many others available). I may not agree on a 1:1 basis, but I enjoy the civility and appreciate the effort made to remain dispassionate.

12) Nothing is to be gained for the 2A community by further association with Starbucks whether protesting, holding FU days, buying a double tall mocha, or in any way failing to observe their request. That bridge has been burned. If it is important to you that you carry and that you maintain secure control of your firearms, in light of the request I see no other polite response other than graciously finding other sources of caffeine and noshes.

Barring serious surprise, I do not expect to comment further on this topic.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Starbucks: And now Commenceth the Fisking

Following the Correia Fisking Protocol, original text is italicized. My comments are in bold and not italicized.

An Open Letter from Howard Schultz, ceo of Starbucks Coffee Company

Dear Fellow Americans,

Few topics in America generate a more polarized and emotional debate than guns. In recent months, Starbucks stores and our partners (employees) who work in our stores have been thrust unwillingly into the middle of this debate. That’s why I am writing today with a respectful request that customers no longer bring firearms into our stores or outdoor seating areas.
Of course, it is only the gunfolk that are addressed.

From the beginning, our vision at Starbucks has been to create a “third place” between home and work where people can come together to enjoy the peace and pleasure of coffee and community. Our values have always centered on building community rather than dividing people, and our stores exist to give every customer a safe and comfortable respite from the concerns of daily life.
And, until this letter, you succeeded in this - profitably providing a public forum for the marketplace of ideas to play out. A more constructive approach would likely have been even more closely nuanced - for instance, simply barring long arms and political signage of any flavor.
We appreciate that there is a highly sensitive balance of rights and responsibilities surrounding America’s gun laws, and we recognize the deep passion for and against the “open carry” laws adopted by many states. (In the United States, “open carry” is the term used for openly carrying a firearm in public.) For years we have listened carefully to input from our customers, partners, community leaders and voices on both sides of this complicated, highly charged issue.
Regrettably, it appears you were more than a bit deaf when listening to the firearms community that went out of its way to support you in light of your simple tolerance.

Our company’s longstanding approach to “open carry” has been to follow local laws: we permit it in states where allowed and we prohibit it in states where these laws don’t exist. We have chosen this approach because we believe our store partners should not be put in the uncomfortable position of requiring customers to disarm or leave our stores. We believe that gun policy should be addressed by government and law enforcement—not by Starbucks and our store partners.
And it is this policy that had earned you the deep support of many gun owners, not as allies or advocates, but for simply treating us as customers of equal value with those of differing views. Many of us took that as a breath of fresh air and sought to reward your behavior by spending money with you - despite the fact that a fair number of those doing so, including myself, felt that you offered an inferior and deteriorating product. We even took you at your word and held our gatherings at your locations so that we might spend yet more with you - and considered your establishments a safe space.
Recently, however, we’ve seen the “open carry” debate become increasingly uncivil and, in some cases, even threatening. Pro-gun activists have used our stores as a political stage for media events misleadingly called “Starbucks Appreciation Days” that disingenuously portray Starbucks as a champion of “open carry.” To be clear: we do not want these events in our stores. Some anti-gun activists have also played a role in ratcheting up the rhetoric and friction, including soliciting and confronting our customers and partners.
Characterizing events driven by gratitude as "misleading" when described as Starbucks Appreciation Days is more than a bit deceptive. The vast majority of these events were driven by a combination and a sense of competition - to see if the 2A community could spend enough to offset any losses you might suffer as a consequence of your neutrality.
For these reasons, today we are respectfully requesting that customers no longer bring firearms into our stores or outdoor seating areas—even in states where “open carry” is permitted—unless they are authorized law enforcement personnel.
Please note that this request does not address open carry - that it is a request that NO FIREARMS be brought into Starbucks facilities - concealed, open, or magical. The earlier comments about Open Carry are a mere distraction - this is the money line, "keep your icky guns off our property - all of them." 

Of course that translates as "leave your guns home, unguarded in your car where they can easily be stolen, or just don't patronize Starbucks - pretty please." I don't plan to disarm to bag a cup of inferior charcoal-flavored coffee, and I'm not a big fan of the Kerlikowske Option - leaving me with politely respecting the request to spend my money elsewhere. 
I would like to clarify two points. First, this is a request and not an outright ban. Why? Because we want to give responsible gun owners the chance to respect our request—and also because enforcing a ban would potentially require our partners to confront armed customers, and that is not a role I am comfortable asking Starbucks partners to take on.
And now we have the veiled threat - comply or there WILL be a ban.
Second, we know we cannot satisfy everyone. For those who oppose “open carry,” we believe the legislative and policy-making process is the proper arena for this debate, not our stores. For those who champion “open carry,” please respect that Starbucks stores are places where everyone should feel relaxed and comfortable. The presence of a weapon in our stores is unsettling and upsetting for many of our customers.
Again, the open carry distraction. The request does not address open carry - it addresses all carry, open or concealed.
I am proud of our country and our heritage of civil discourse and debate. It is in this spirit that we make today’s request. Whatever your view, I encourage you to be responsible and respectful of each other as citizens and neighbors.


Howard Schultz
 Civility should be our watchword in this matter. Mr. Schultz has politely requested we not darken the door of his establishments - we should oblige. There are many mom and pop coffee shops with far better coffee and snacks (even the fancy stuff) that are struggling to survive in the shadow of the behemoth that doesn't want our business - let's go have some coffee where we are welcome...or where at least we've not been asked to leave.
Let me be painfully clear. As a private business Starbucks has every right to request anyone they like to leave for any reason they like or to set any expectation for behavior or viewpoint as a condition of doing business with them as may thrill their collective little hearts. Goodie for them. 

Conversely, if we or any other group find their choices less than amusing we can express our dismay in a wide variety of ways. Presently, I favor politely honoring their request to not do business with them.

"I Love Guns & Coffee" - A response

I have had the privilege of speaking to the founder and proprietor of  the much-plagiarized "I Love Guns & Coffee" on numerous occasions and he's a decent and down to earth guy who has taken a good idea and run with it - and done mighty well at it. One thing we must all understand is that his public positions must take into account the 2,000lb behemoth that can squish him and his company at any instant should he irritate them rather than make them giggle.

With all that said, he posted the below to Facebook and I add my comments as a relatively gentle fisking:

We have a question for the folks who thought that carrying a long gun into a coffee shop was a good idea... WHAT DID YOU THINK WAS GOING TO HAPPEN?!?!
Agreed. As stated elsewhere,  taking long guns into public spaces in an urban or hipster-burdened environment is a bad tactical choice at both a practical and political level - something that should be obvious to even the slowest dullard.

From the beginning, they have NEVER been pro-2A. They did a good job at being as neutral as possible while still respecting the rights and views of ALL of their customers. As the anti-2A groups stepped up their attacks, they held firm on their position to follow the local laws and regulations surrounding the carrying of firearms.
Agreed, Starbucks has been neutral and not an ally.
The future of I Guns & Coffee has not changed and we will not be changing our iconic parody. We still love our 2A right. We still love our coffee and we still support companies, ALL companies, that support the rule of law when it comes to the 2A. What we cannot support are the actions of a few who thought that it was a good idea to strap on a long gun to make a political statement.
Agreed yet again. Long guns are a bit too scary for the hipsters in the near term.
Firearms are personal protection tools, not props to be used as political statements.
And here we disagree. Simply by existing and being honest about who we are as gun owners we make a political statement. Open Carry of a handgun, while not my preferred mode, serves as a tool for personal protection, as a political statement and (done right) as a valuable conversation opener.

Closets are for clothes, not gun owners - not even if you can get them cut rate as surplus from the LGBT community.

That said, don't show up looking like a lost member of the Battle of Kham Duc Glee Club and Fire Team and at least try to dress as a non-scary person that happens to carry a gun openly - not a scary person who is ALSO carrying a gun.
From day one they have asked that those who wish to make a political statement do so with their elected representatives and to keep the fight out of their stores. Simple right? But some could not resist. They sought attention. They grabbed their soap boxes, called local media and went out of their way to make a scene. Yes, we know you have the right to do it, but businesses also have the right to dictate what type of behavior is acceptable in their businesses. With rights comes responsibility.
 There is a significant and important difference between visiting a coffee shop while armed (or even visibly armed) or wearing declaratory "I carry a gun" attire while profusely thanking staff for their neutrality (and it does suck to have to set the bar for praise that low) and spending money enthusiastically for a generally undesirable product and a protest. Protests, generally, should be mounted on the sidewalks directly outside an offending establishment. Praise generally requires interaction.
In our opinion, carrying a long gun into a coffee shop = responsibility FAIL! If our goal is to increase support for the 2A, civil discourse, empathy, logic and reason will help the most. Trolling with long guns while filming police interactions and posting them YouTube while sitting outside a coffee shop does not help.
Agreed. A long gun is "doing it wrong" in virtually every instance I can imagine (I have in mind a specific exception not long ago in Oak Harbor, WA). Long guns just freak out the patchouli scented hipsters far more intensely than handguns - not so much out of anything remotely resembling logic, but political reality seldom tracks with logic.
Next, we think it is time to address some thoughts about this word that has been floating around this morning: boycott. We think that sends the wrong message. Remember, this is not an outright ban, it is a polite request. If carrying a concealed pistol is part of your daily routine, what has changed? Their position never changed, at least until this last round of anti-2A vs. pro-2A got going.
I must disagree. Given the choices (don't carry, leave a loaded firearm unguarded in a car, or refrain from darkening Starbucks door) it seems obvious that "not visiting Starbucks" is the only ethical and moral option. Howard Schultz, the head of Starbucks, has made a polite request - it would be rude not to honor that request. And there are, after all, other coffee shops - almost all of which have a good chance of serving better coffee at more reasonable prices without that special Starbucks Charcoal Flavor.

If that's a boycott? Well, so be it. I did my best to offset any fiscal harm they took from their neutral position of simply following state law by participating in "buycotts" and showing up at other times  to buy coffee I found merely tolerable at enhanced prices because I wanted to encourage continued good behavior by Starbucks. Lacking that motivation, I'll go someplace cheaper and better...which shouldn't be hard to find.
We never condoned nor encouraged organized groups to invade their stores. Keeping it simple seemed like the best approach: wear your t-shirt, hand out a sticker or two, order your coffee and go on about your day. You could even pay with $2 bills. That passive approach is good strategy to combat the misguided ranting from the anti-2A groups. But some had to take it a step further. Remember when the Newtown, CT store closed early last month? Think about that for a moment. Action = reaction. Can we react better to anti-2A groups? How can we build bridges and come to mutual understanding with those that do not see eye to eye with our views?
This assumes that Starbucks Appreciation Days were anything but what I described. Yes, the twits with long guns drove Starbucks to make a really bad decision and levy veiled threats of worse...but that does not relieve Starbucks of the responsibility for their own decision. They could, purely as an example, simply posted their stores "no long guns on premises" and to the extent that our community failed to build the bridge to communicate that to them, we did err. 
Thank you to everyone who has commented and shared their thoughts through social media. We appreciate the time you take to make your comments. We rarely nuke comments so please keep it classy, civil and avoid name calling. We will continue to support our customers, vendors and non-profits who see value from our growing line of parody brands. Parodies are fun and bringing people joy with I Guns & Coffee is here to stay.
The folks at "I Love Guns & Coffee" are good people, as is their founder/leader. One of the things I cherish about the gentleman in charge is that he *is* a gentleman, able to wrap his head around the notion that others may disagree without being disagreeable or somehow dysfunctional. He is a fervent defender of Second Amendment rights and supports many of the same 2nd Amendment causes that I do, but on a far more grand and glorious scale than I have the resources to manage. In short, be nice to him and send him money - even if I do disagree with him somewhat in his analysis of current events. 

I didn't post this on Facebook because a fisking, no matter how gentle, does not belong in somebodies Facebook comments. It sucks space and fails the brevity test - it's rude. Since I try to restrict myself to only being rude on purpose, I posted this over here.


On Open Carry, in light of Starbucks

When I first came out as a gay man, first to myself and then to the world, I was firmly among those very critical of the "visible gays" of the day - the drag and leather queens. My thought was something along the lines of "dammit, if it wasn't for those freaks, folks would accept us and all would be good in the world."

I was just a tad naive and ignorant.

Turns out that the drag and leather communities were the vanguard of the movement for LGBT civil rights, not only blazing flamboyant trails across festive new horizons in their defiance of the status quo but at the same time doing more for charity and their fellow man (Sisters, anyone? The Imperal Court system? Knights of Malta? ) than the vast majority of more workaday and less fabulous members of the community.

The visibly out have, for good or ill, been of huge benefit to the LGBT community - organizing events, raising money for AIDS and arguably pushing the boundaries of acceptance out far enough to make room for those of us charitably described as less flamboyant.

The Open Carry movement are the drag queens of the gun community. Like it our not, they are our most visible face - the ones that the broader community can easily identify as gun owners and say "all gun owners are like THEM." As a result, their actions resonate far more powerfully and their mis-steps do far more damage than those of the average gun-carrying Joe or Janette.

It's a visibility thing.

Sure, we have the leaders of the NRA and SAF fighting legislative and court battles and that work is clearly hugely important. But Joe public doesn't often run into Wayne LaPierre or Alan Gottlieb at the local coffee shop or beer blast and talk constitutional law - and that average Joe or Jane is the one voting in elected representatives that make laws.

Again, the work of the "big kids" is darned important stuff - but so is coming out of the gun owning closet (as somebody else once said, "closets are for clothes, not people"). It's harder to hate and fear a class of people and attempt to oppress them when you have someone in your life - sister, cousin, brother, son, friend - that your actions will be grinding a boot in the face of.

It's the grassroots victory. It's harder to be scared of guns and gun owners when you've known Uncle Bob is peaceful/generous/kind and carries a gun since you were old enough to manage single syllable words. It isn't easy to hate the person who stood up for you when the rest of the family told you to go to hell.

And that brings us to our Open Carry community. There is a difference between a drag queen in a Pride Parade, a protest, a show or a living room..... and the drag queen that's hiked up her skirts and is taking a dump in your kitchen sink.

I support, even while occasionally wincing, those who choose to responsibly Open Carry handguns lawfully in public spaces. I do not believe that it serves gun owners to be a shamed and ostracized minority consigned to hiding in surplus closets bought from the LGBT community. Accepting the definition of the other side that gun ownership is somehow freakish and only to be reluctantly admitted because we are somehow morally unclean doesn't precisely advance public acceptance.

On the other hand, some help we just don't need - the sort that's about as useful as a rip-roaring case of syphilis. Our equivalent of the drag queen taking a dump in the sink is our friends that don't just push the envelope, but set it on fire before pissing on the ashes. I'm speaking of our allies who fail the "ambassador qualification test." and run around in urban areas with long guns scaring the crud out of the fence-sitters and neutrals that might otherwise eventually migrate to our side.

There is a difference for most non-issue folks between seeing a guy or gal with a gun on their hip ("Oh, probably a cop" or ) and the guy or gal toting a shotgun/AR/AK/etc into the local coffee shop, diner, or library - one tends to cause folks to ask questions (at most) and the other tends cause folks to seek cover while calling for folks with the armored butterfly net.

Scaring the crud out of folks makes enemies, not friends - and doesn't exactly help us at the ballot box or in front of legislative bodies. Folks who fail to realize this are either terminally ignorant or saboteurs to the cause of Second Amendment rights. 

For the occasional hard of thinking among the Open Carry community:

1) Camo bad outside of woods.
2) Long guns bad in urban areas.
3) Tactical holster scary. Don't be scarier than you have to be. Screws things up for everyone.

None of the above excuses Starbucks and their overbroad (and in my opinion ill-advised and weak-kneed) response. They had the perfect neutral position and blew it when a number of more nuanced positions were available to them, but instead politely requested responsible gun owners to stop doing business with them - a request we should equally politely oblige.

But that doesn't mean there isn't sufficient splatter to go around.

Finally, yet again, in an effort to reach out to the hard of thinking reading this:

1) Appreciation Days, even for the warmed-over flavorless gruel of neutrality, are good. Make it profitable for people to be nice to us - or at least not kick us in the teeth. Be nice, get money is a winning formula.

2) Thanking folks for their neutrality or support tends, barring stupidity, to generate more of the same.

3) Being an out, proud, and non-scary gun person is a vital element in winning hearts and minds.


Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Starbucks - Where do *I* stand?

I stand with Tam and Jennifer. Mr. Schultz has, to my satisfaction, made it clear that I and many of those I count as friends and community are unwelcome in his establishments.

To honor his request I may either leave an unguarded firearm in a vehicle, venture forth from home unarmed, find a mythical convenient AND secure location - or I can simply refrain from darkening the door of his coffee shops. I would urge those who claim that CCW is a valid option to re-read his missive - while it mentions Open Carry several times, it requests that *all* weapons not be carried on Starbucks properties.

The responsible and polite choice that at the same time reflects my interest in my safety is that I not darken the door of Starbucks.

Happily enough, the sole reasons I again darkened the door of Starbucks after long absence was to offset any financial damages caused by their previous neutral position, and perhaps in my own small way reward them. On one occasion I did Open Carry (not my preferred mode, and pistol, thank you) in the spirit of "thank you for your civility," but that's a long long way from "protest" in my mind.

I am now relieved of the obligation to consume poorly brewed and over-roasted coffee concoctions dispensed at absurd prices accompanied by alleged pastries and supposed treats of ever less flavor and attractiveness out of some sense of "they are actually being civil, I should be grateful! And reward this!"

That the 2A community is so ostracized that we are pathetically grateful when a business simply refrains from kicking us in the teeth when we don't remain carefully But it's a space we get to go through as we meander back from a long cultural exile.

That said, I have no problem with the Open Carry community most of the time. But, guys'n'gals? We're still at the point in states where OC is legal that if you carry in that mode, you need to budget "diplomacy-time" to educate the ignorant and the frightened - to play ambassador to the mis-informed...and that's if you're carrying a handgun and not in "scare the undecided" full-bore camouflage (as Tam put it, "Battle of Falleujah" Re-enactors club drag) complete with a long-arm. It's going to be a LONG time before carrying a long arm in an urban environment is anything other than three-star dumb and grossly counterproductive.


If you're going to Open Carry, recognize you have JUST volunteered to be the public face of the community - so don't screw it up for the rest of us.

Starbucks and the Blame Game - Overview (CLICK THE LINKS - READ!)

Last night Starbucks President and CEO posted an open letter on the company website (also below) announcing that gun owners, and in particular their icky guns, would no longer be welcome at his establishments and their outdoor areas.

Today, amidst intermittent up time for the Starbucks servers, response among gun blogs and pro-gun posters to social media has been decidedly mixed. One school of thought holds Starbucks essentially blameless, doling out contempt and blame to Open Carry folks (especially those openly carrying long guns) and those who stepped outside the Gun Owner Closet - and thus Schultz and Starbucks are blameless and undeserving of "punishment."

The other main school of thought, while agreeing that open carry of a long gun in an urban area is a poor choice at multiple levels, holds that Starbucks original position ("We will adhere to local laws.") was the ideal policy - and that this letter declaring firearms owners (particularly those that carry) unwelcome is at best a betrayal of years of efforts to support Starbucks and replace any revenue lost to anti-gun boycotts by boosting their revenue via "Starbucks Appreciation Days" (where folks would open carry, buy coffee, and thank staff for their neutrality) and buycotts (going out of your way on a given day to spend money at Starbucks).

Cam Edwards, host of the “Cam & Company” radio show at NRA News, posted an online article today "Why I’m done with Starbucks (at least for now)" that has done one of the best jobs of explaining the position of the second school of thought. Edwards makes his position plain, saying "I’ll honor Mr. Schultz’s request not to bring my legally carried firearm in his stores anymore. I’ll take my business to those stores who truly don’t care about my status as a gun owner but who see me as a valued customer."
I’ll honor Mr. Schultz’s request not to bring my legally carried firearm in his stores anymore. I’ll take my business to those stores who truly don’t care about my status as a gun owner but who see me as a valued customer. - See more at:

Why I’m done with Starbucks (at least for now)

Why I’m done with Starbucks (at least for now)

Why I’m done with Starbucks (at least for now)

Tam, proprietress of View from the Porch (quite possibly the largest independent gun blog out there) opens her "No Dogs or Irish" Starbucks post strong, with the quote:
"...but even if you are Irish, we won't ask you to leave. We don't want to cause a stink or make a scene; we just don't like Irish people that much. But we'd still appreciate their money, if there was some way they could give it to us without being so... Irish-y about it.
 She goes on to carefully lay out her position in flawlessly polite detail, ending by pointing out "When I am politely asked to not give someone my money, it would be rude of me to ignore their request."

From Sebastian at the blog "Shall not be Questioned"  comes a terse post setting forth a call to gun owners to stop doing business with Starbucks and contact their corporate headquarters to let them know why, with the Virginia Shooting Sports Association chiming in with firm support.

Jennifer of Jennifers Head joins Tam in exquisite politeness as she serves notice that she will no longer patronize Starbucks, saying "I will respect your request not to bring firearms into your stores. Since my firearm is attached to my hip, that means that I will not enter either even though you will not do anything to stop me. You have made a polite request which I will politely honor, nothing more."

Dave Workman, the Seattle Gun Rights Examiner, takes a rather different view in his posting and quotes several bloggers to support his stance, saying "If someone or some group wishes to debate firearms rights and policies, a much better venue might be found. The service area of a private business is the wrong place."

Blogger Christopher Burg joins Workman in this view in his post on Starbucks and their recent decision concluding "Neither side of the gun debate should demand boycotts of Starbucks or host political demonstrations on Starbucks’ property." And blogger Robb Allen weighs in with a significantly harsher analysis that alleges that this is gun owners own fault.

Other Blog Starbucks Posts

Another Gun Blog Atomic Nerds Marooned
The Adventures of RobertX Gun Nuts Scribbler's Scrawls

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

A conversation about Starbucks

Update, 9/17/13 - 2200 PST: It's Official - Starbucks is barring weapons, passive-aggressively as is typical of Seattle.

I read this evening that Starbucks is rumored to be preparing to cave to the anti-gunners and criminalize (in many states) law-abiding CPL holders who dare to darken their door. Later I watched this carefully anonymized chat fly past me. None of the names resemble of any of those in reality, and that's the way I intended it - it's the tone and message that count, not the messenger.

I hope that Starbucks, if they are actually considering this step, will re-evaluate. Such a course will gain them nothing - the Anti's will not be satisfied until their is a sign on the door of every Starbucks reading "We don't serve dogs or gun owners." And realistically, short of implementing mandatory carry when visiting Starbucks, the Anti's can't get any angrier than they already are - they've shot their wad.

On the other hand, as noted below by several in the conversation, this sort of step WILL be seen as a betrayal by the Gun Owning community. The Gun Community has gone a long way out of its way to support with cash, advertising and support a core-liberal company that has only refrained from engaging in bigotry against members of that community...and this will be seen as a betrayal of every bit of that support by Starbucks.

80 million gun owners is a lot of coffee.

I'm pretty sure "NuTone" has the best analysis. The conversation speaks for itself.

[20:51] <+DiamondJoe> WretchinMordor:
[20:51] <+DiamondJoe> "According to an internal document dated 9/16/2013, Starbucks Coffee stores will “request that Starbucks customers not bring weapons into our stores.” The request will come in the form of an open letter from Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz to national media outlets that will be shared Thursday, 9/19/2013."
[20:51] <+Statesmen_Variant> well, I guess I'm done with starbucks
[20:52] <+NuTone> DiamondJoe, I suspect threading the needle is just going to piss off everybody.
[20:52] <+WretchinMordor> I've read the memo. They won't ask someone to leave, they won't enforce it, and sounds like they aren't even going to post their stores.
[20:52] <+WretchinMordor> they want to be left out of the debate, that's all
[20:52] <+WretchinMordor> and I can't hate them for that
[20:52] <@teddybear> wanna start a starbucks boycott day for the 20th?  The anti tried it and failed miserably, wanna see what 80 million gun owners can do?
[20:52] <+DiamondJoe> And here in my state, such an open letter would constitute a notice that guns are not allowed on the premises... Which means anyone carrying would be a criminal.
[20:53] <+Statesmen_Variant> WHERE WILL I PUT MY PITCHFORK NOW
[20:53] <+WretchinMordor> good luck proving that i saw that letter.
[20:53] <+DiamondJoe> I expect we shall see one start soon
[20:56] <+GREYEMINENCE> ...annnnnd starbucks returns to the overpriced, burned coffee that it always was. The modicum of respect I had for them when they gallantly offered NOT to pander to the antis is now officially gone...
[20:59] <+DiamondJoe> WretchinMordor: you would have to prove that it was not a "statement by the person in legal possession or control of the premises."
[20:59] <+DiamondJoe> You don’t have to have read it for it to apply to you
[21:00] <@teddybear> I wonder how much of that was push from the individual store managers?
[21:00] <+WretchinMordor> OK DiamondJoe. You're right, I'm wrong, I still dont' give a fuck.
[21:00] <+WretchinMordor> In fact, I think I'll stop and get a frapp on my way to work tomorrow, just because I can
[21:01] <+Statesmen_Variant> WretchinMordor: no shit
[21:01] <+Statesmen_Variant> pretty sure people just want to argue to argue

Saturday, September 14, 2013

GunBlogger Rendezvous - The Aftermath - Part I

I am sitting in an ice cream shop at Circus Circus in Reno and waiting for "next" on my circuitous way to the airport today as I write this. I'm more than a little tired, a bit caffeine deprived (working on that), concerned about what awaits me on my desk back home and a bit saddened that GBR is over for 2013.

The upshot is that GBR raised over $6,000 for Soldiers Angels - Project Valor IT, a cause that Mike (Mr. Completely) and GBR has been dedicated to supporting for over 8 years.

Plans are already underway with Mike G. again leading the charge to put on a great event in 2014 and, as with every year, make a few improvements and apply a few lessons learned.

A few of the notions being tossed around include creating a series of alternative events for the spouses and partners of the bloggers and shooters to enjoy, possibly inviting members of print and electronic media to participate, and maybe including some learning bits around gun law, policy and such. It's all still in flux. We haven't even bugged out from Reno for 2013 yet. 

The one thing that is certain is that GBR be back bigger, better and more fabulous than ever in 2014 - almost entirely due to the bloggers and blog readers who showed up to make the event the amazing  experience that it is, growing and developing each year.


Nearly a week later, surfacing after clearing the office desk off. Manny, thank for coming to GBR - it was a blast to have you there and I hope we see you and the team there next year. You each really added to the event in a lot of different ways.

Next up? The Gun Rights Policy Conference in Houston, September 27-29 - and it's still not too late to register!!


Monday, September 9, 2013

And the winner is?

Our friends from Outwest Systems  were kind enough to demonstrate their OCATS target practice system in the Gun Blogger Rendezvous hospitality room after a fine Silver Legacy dinner- with,  after several rounds of competition,  we got ourselves a winner! That lucky guy gets to take home the base OCATS system (roughly $500) and set it up in his home.

The OCATS system takes a fairly neat approach using commonly available lasers and components and hooking all that up to their proprietary software in a set-up that allows either for laser-only practice for non-range use or live-fire practice in a range environment. The most elaborate system costs well under 10k and the beginning systems can be had for under $150.

The system itself gives the shooter data on how much his/her hand was moving as each "shot" is fired (live fire or pure laser), score, rate of fire and more. The software is expected to be compatible with competition software shortly - meaning that the whole scoring thing gets a WHOLE lot easier for several different disciplines.

I'd describe the system as being well past beta testing into a solid industry and retail phase of affairs - the point where it is functional as a training tool and competitive aid for shooters, shooting events and law enforcement training but where you can easily see the future potential of the product as it continues to develop.

If you can pony the money up, OCATS would be a good choice to add to the training  and competition toolboxs of any individual or organization.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Gun Blogger Rendezvous Day II

One of the joys of this event , is how the excitement builds over the weekend as one attendee after another comes rolling in, turning up at random moments at one of the ranges or one of the meals. Newcomers are welcomed, and regulars that might only see each other in the flesh once a year (or less) renew friendships enthusiastically.

You know you need to get out to the range more often when you are getting tired after only 6 hours, no matter how good a time you might be having. My marksmanship fell apart today (just how tired am I, this early in GBR?), but on the other hand I got to shoot two of my own guns I'd never shot before (my second S&W 25-5 and my Ruger III), and a number of other folks guns.

Especially enjoyable  were Engineering Johnson's .32ACP Walther PPK and jazz era Stevens Scout .22. The Walther is real tack-driver and gentle on the hand, and the rolling block action Scout was a stout little sure shooter as long as you respected its age.

The flip side of other folks sharing guns (and ammunition, thank you Kevin!) was the opportunity to share my little collection with others - always fun. "Here! Try this!" can be even better than "Hey! That's COOL! Can I try shoot that??" The high point on that side was when National Champion and writer Molly Smith (who is simply scary good with a revolver) took a turn on my S&W 25-5. She had fun and I had the pleasure of watching one of my guns being wielded with far more skill and talent than I ever hope to bring to the firing line.

Beginning last night and continuing today I've had the privilege of introducing around the guys from (David, Dallas and Diego) as they got acquainted with "real, live bloggers." They and the team from OutWest lead me to believe that closer interaction between bloggers, activists and industry folks is made of win for *everyone* concerned.

I'll see if I can turn up pictures of our industry friends on the range.

Dining with Gun Bloggers

One of the joys of gun blogger gatherings is that you get to sit down for meals or beverages with a bunch of pretty smart people that often bring pretty deep knowledge of particular fields (related to guns sometimes, even) with them, and often a fair chunk of life experience. This makes for interesting conversation.

Throw in folks from a couple of sponsoring groups and you have the makings of several simultaneous interesting conversations and some hard choices on which one you want to follow when all of them are fascinating in different directions. Between the GBR engineering squad, the folks from OutWest Systems (the purveyors of an indoor/outdoor target practice system), the folks from busily exploring just what this strange segment of the blogosphere is, a bunch of experienced gunfolks in full chat mode and random cross-over conversations - and you end up with an exhausting evening of high-quality conversation.

That was Friday night, with most folks turning into pumpkins by 10 p.m. and a few hold-outs making it until 10:30.  We get a good crew down here and while we have fun, a lot of friendships are built and various misunderstandings hashed out - even as the event raises money for Soldiers Angels - Project Valor IT.

Major Charles Ziegenfuss speaking on Project Valor IT


If you're immersed in a community (especially a really pleasant community), it's easy to forget that not everyone is either part of the community or knows about and understands that community. That's true of the gun owners community generally, but even more true of the community of Gun Bloggers.

GC: "Yes, please schedule a wake-up call at omigawd thirty."

Silver Legacy Hotel Staffer: "Certainly, GC. I've got to ask - what's a gun blogger and what's this rendezvous thing? None of the rest of the staff know and I'm curious."

GC: " Thanks! Gun bloggers are folks that write about firearms, the gun owning community, and a lot of other things - some of them even related to firearms. The Rendezvous is a get-together for a bunch of them, including some of the most-read in the country. Go to to see what a gun blog looks like, or maybe to get a feel - they'll both have links to other blogs of various viewpoints."

Silver Legacy Hotel  Staffer: "Thanks"

This kind of interaction is what I talk about when I go into one of my periodic rants on how each of us, as a gun owner, is an ambassador for the entire gun owning community. We can be a cruddy one, we can abandon our responsibilities - or when the opportunity lands in our lap, we can seize the chance to create a positive image of gun owners in folks minds - one or two, or even three, people at a time.

Each time we decide to pause, take a breath, and teach that "the default setting for gun owner is not scary person" we undermine hundreds of thousands of dollars and years of effort that the anti-gun movement has spent spreading the myth that "gun owners are racist fat old white guys who are barely articulate, knuckle-dragging, uncivilized, mouth-breathing bubbas that shouldn't be trusted with rubber spoons - let alone firearms." Undermining bigotry isn't just fun, it's good for both our community and the nation. (Bigotry is bad, m'kay?)

I had fun today! At Gunblogger Rendezvous

Bouncing at 0700 and heading down to meet the rest of the herd at 0830, we merrily headed on over to the Circus Circus buffet before heading out to Cabela's to gather up ammunition, supplies, and the raffle prizes for Saturday night.

And then the fun began. Off we went to visit the folks at Northern Nevada Cowboy Action Shooting at their Roop County range, some of the most amazing hosts in the West.

Free ammunition. 19th century firearms, provided for free - to shoot competitively and just for fun - and the opportunity to shoot things you rarely see outside of museums.

I shot a re-barreled .45-70 Remington Rolling Block rifle (after rebarreling with possibly the largest barrel I've seen on any thing not crew-served and weighing in somewhere north of 15lbs) - and proved to myself I could get away with .45-70 in a heavy enough gun.

NNCAS President Tim Galligan (aka "Jasper Agate) graciously let me fire his .50-70 Remington Rolling Block rifle (circa 1871) in a timed run. The .50-70 had a surprisingly gentle kick for such a light rifle.

While for some, coach guns (side-by-side double barreled shotguns) may be old hat, it's something I've never had the chance to shoot before - and having the Nevada State Champion introduce me, complete with coaching, was a heck of a thrill.

I honestly can't say when I've had a better day shooting that left me walking away feeling more confident in my skills.

Then, as our group began to fade around 4 p.m., Galligan came over and brought us to the meeting hall to be sure we were properly fed, watered and socialized before setting us loose on the modern world.

Darned nice folks and you couldn't ask for a more hospitable bunch. Well worth ringing up if you're in Reno and seeing if you can join one of there nearly weekly shoots.

Cowboy Action Shooting as we know it originated under the aegis of the Single Action Shooters Society, a group dedicated to the promotion and preservation of the sport. Today it is the fastest growing of the competitive shooting sports and a number of other groups and associations that are more or less tightly associated with SASS are a large part of that growth. 

Depending on the group and organization, the firearms allowed may differ - but in general fall into the range "was found in the Old West or in Western themed movies?" Some groups limit themselves to pistol caliber lever actions, shotguns and single action revolvers. Others take a far broader view and if it existed in the Old West or in cowboy movies, the firearm in question  is fair game.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013


Flavor: This is not your Sees Candy kind of praline. Yes, there is a hint of sweet to them, but the pecan is far more dominant, flavor-wise. I'll give it another couple of goes, but it looks like the palate of 1896 in Boston preferred something a bit less sweet and substantially more nutty.

Difficulty: This will take work to get right. As an example, when the nuts hit the candy it sets up in what seems like milli-seconds.. Yet again, easy and reasonably fast. If it sets up too fast you MAY be able to get away with reheating the "crumbles" in 1 minute blasts in a buttered glass dish - your mileage may vary with this salvage technique. CAUTION: Like any hot sugary candy, this stuff will stick to you like napalm when it's hot - be careful!

How close did I stick to the original?: Pretty darned close. I'm not aware of any variation in my technique from the original. Maybe that I used a gas stove?


1-7/8 cups Powdered Sugar 2 cups hickory nut or pecan meat cut in pieces
1 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup cream

Boil first three ingredients until, when tried in cold water, a sot ball may be formed (typically 238F). Remove from fire and beat until of a creamy consistency; add nuts, and drop from the tip of spoon in small piles on buttered paper.