NEWTOWN — The Starbucks store here closed early Friday, taping a notice to its front door that indicated it didn’t want to take part in a national observance by gun advocates.
The advocates had planned to meet at Starbucks stores across the country Friday evening to show their appreciation that the Seattle-based corporation does not prohibit customers from entering its stores with firearms in states that have open-carry laws. Connecticut does not have such a law.
The store in Newtown was listed as one of the stores to be visited.
On Dec. 14, 20 first-graders and six adult educators were killed by a gunman at the town’s Sandy Hook Elementary School. Many of the town’s residents have been vocal supporters of stronger gun control laws.
About 12 gun advocates showed up at the store Friday evening, some carrying their weapons in plain sight. As a steady rain fell, the group took shelter under an awning. A handful of gun-control supporters were also there, huddled under a separate awning.
The notice on the door read: “Out of respect for Newtown and everthing our community has been through,we have decided to close our store early today.
“Starbucks did not endorse today’s event. We continue to encourage customers and advocacy groups from all sides of this debate to contact their elected officials, who make the laws our company follows. We recognize there is significant passion surrounding this topic, however we believe people should be sensitive to our community.”
Later, the chain’s executive vice president for retail stores in the U.S., Chris Carr, issued a similarly worded statement, with some amplifications:
“Today, advocacy groups from different sides of the open carry debate announced plans to visit our Newtown, Connecticut, store to bring attention to their points of view. We recognize that there is significant and genuine passion surrounding this topic, however out of respect for Newtown and everything the community has been through we decided to close our store early before the event started.
“… Our long-standing approach to this topic has been to comply with local laws and statutes in the communities we serve.”
Sandy Hook Promise, a nonprofit organization created to support the families of victims and the community after the mass shooting, thanked Starbucks in a statement.
“Thank you Starbucks Coffee Company for closing the Newtown store today early out of respect to the families who lost loved ones and the community who grieves for them. Love wins.”
By Shannon O’Connor, Hartford Courant