Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Starbucks Sees the Value in Guns?!?!

A couple of weeks ago my world was shaken. For the first time in my life I found myself lavishing praise on my archenemy, Starbucks.

I hate Starbucks. I hate their cultural influence, and I hate their product. In fact, the only time I've even purchased something from the coffee Leviathan was when I needed to spend the last of my Chinese currency before flying out of Beijing. I bought a water and sandwich, grumbling the entire time, and haven't been back since.

So why the change of heart all of the sudden? It's because of Starbucks' recent stance on gun carrying.

If you are not familiar with the situation, here is a quick rundown. An upscale coffee chain in California named Peet's banned the carrying of firearms on their property--even by officially permitted carriers. (That is fine, and they are well within their rights to do so. Surely, we who value gun rights should also value property rights.) Seeing a chance to appeal to a newly marginalized customer base--the firearm carrier--Starbucks made it known that they would not forbid licensed carriers from exercising their gun rights in Starbucks establishments. They made it quite public that if you carry a gun within the confines of the law, feel free to stop in at Starbucks and bring your gun with you.

This has been a brilliant act on their part to attract gun rights supporters to their establishments, but it has also been a firestorm of controversy among the anti-gun groups, including the Brady Campaign, who demand that Starbucks stop accommodating its gun-toting customers. Thankfully, Starbucks has ignored the cries of “espresso shots, not gunshots" and has stuck to its guns--so to speak (editor's note: that was not intentional in the original draft).

What we see here is classic free-marketing. Two coffee shops with roughly the same product are going after two different markets by taking two different stances. Peet's has decided that the business of gun carriers is not needed in their establishment, while Starbucks has reached out to that demographic. Both have seen results one way or the other for their decisions.

I love it. We see in this simple example a testament to self-regulation by the market. Private property owners are determining the gun policies on their premises, and consumers are able to reward or discourage businesses based on their beliefs. No government had to step in to protect gun owners from discrimination; the money did the talking. 

I speak of the theory behind market-based regulation (as opposed to government mandated regulation) on a daily basis. It is vital to true constitutional government and a truly free society. Therefore, I'm quite glad to see yet another real world example of principle in action.

So for the time being, in regard to your position on gun carriers, bravo Starbucks. Who knows? Maybe I'll stop in and get a muffin sometime--gun in tow--for no other reason than to show my support for this policy.

Now maybe we can get you to allow the words "Laissez Faire" printed on your customized Starbucks cards.

PS: Here is Chuck Baldwin's take. Haven't read it yet, but I'm sure it's good.

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