March 9, 2010

Byline: Marjorie Anderson

EDMOND - Where it is legal, customers can enter a store packing heat and leave with their favorite half‑caf cappuccino, according to Starbucks' policy.

In a statement posted on its Web site, Starbucks defends its position, and the company believes supporting local laws is the "right way for us to ensure a safe environment" for both employees and customers. Starbucks cites open carry weapon laws, passed in 43 of 50 U.S. states.

"While we deeply respect the views of all our customers, Starbucks' long‑standing approach to this issue remains unchanged," the company says. "We comply with local laws and statutes in all the communities we serve."

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Edmond Police spokeswoman Glynda Chu said only law enforcement officers can openly carry guns in Oklahoma, but residents can get a state‑issued concealed carry permit if they meet the requirements and complete the application process.

Local businesses can post a sign saying "No Firearms" and concealed weapons would not be allowed as well, Chu said.

State Rep. Jason Murphey, an Edmond‑area lawmaker, said businesses that do not allow Oklahoma concealed carry holders into their establishments risk losing a lot of business. Murphey said there are tens of thousands of concealed carry licensees in the state, and permitting guns could help if they are known as being friendly to the licensees.

Imagine the potential consequences if a shooting occurred at a business and a licensed gun carrier had to leave their weapon in their car due to a no guns allowed policy, said Murphey, R‑Guthrie.

"I think that it is a very responsible policy," said Murphey, who authored legislation that would allow concealed handguns on public college campuses.

David Jenkins, Senate president pro tem for the University of Central Oklahoma Student Government Association, said he has a concealed carry permit and he is a regular at several Edmond Starbucks.

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The Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation manages the concealed carry application process. Agency spokeswoman Jessica Brown said there were 94,158 Oklahomans with concealed carry permits as of last week.

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