Locked, Loaded, and Ready to Caffeinate
By IAN URBINA
Published: March 7, 2010
. . . a grass-roots effort among some gun rights advocates is shifting attention to a different goal: exercising the right to carry unconcealed weapons in the 38 or more states that have so-called open-carry laws allowing guns to be carried in public view with little or no restrictions. . . . “Our point is to do the same thing that concealed carriers do,” said Mike Stollenwerk, a co-founder of OpenCarry.org, which serves as a national forum. “We’re just taking off our jackets.”
. . .
Gun control advocates have raised particular concerns about open-carry laws because under these laws in many states, gun owners are not required to have a permit or any sort of training or testing.
. . .
Mr. Stollenwerk, the co-founder of OpenCarry.org., who is a retired Army officer from Fairfax County, Va., said the meet-ups were also meant as chances for gun owners to exercise and advertise their rights in states that allow people to openly carry firearms. More than 27,000 members are registered for his group’s online discussion forum, he said.
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For Starbucks, the debate has become a headache.
After California gun owners began holding meet-ups in January at Starbucks, the Brady Campaign began sending out petitions to pressure the company to forbid weapons. Starbucks released a statement saying it would not turn gun carriers away from its cafes, and would instead continue to comply with local laws and statutes.
“The political, policy and legal debates around these issues belong in the legislatures and courts, not in our stores,” Starbuck officials said. They said the company did not want to be in the middle of the controversy.
Other businesses have taken a different tack — and are embracing the movement.
The East Coast Pizza Bar and Grill in Walnut Creek, Calif., about 25 miles east of San Francisco, invited gun owners to host open carry meet-ups. At least 70 people attended one last Sunday, many carrying firearms, said the owner, Jessie Grunner, 30. And over a dozen returned on Thursday night for more.
“Frankly, I wasn’t sure how I would feel in that type of situation, and it really turned out to be a total nonissue,” Ms. Grunner said.
“The families were great,” she said. “These were very gracious people.” The fact that customers wore sidearms, she said, “just faded into the background.”