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Newtown Starbucks Lands in Middle of Gun Rights Debate

The renewed debate is born out of posts calling on gun rights groups to hold a "Starbucks Appreciation Day" in Newtown Friday.

Starbucks is located on Church Hill Road in Newtown, Conn. Credit: Davis Dunavin
Starbucks is located on Church Hill Road in Newtown, Conn. Credit: Davis Dunavin
An online back-and-forth has drawn the town's Starbucks into the ongoing debate on gun rights in America — and a Newtown-based organization is calling it "reprehensible."

The debate was renewed today when "Concerned Citizen" posted a Facebook status from an alleged Connecticut Citizens Defense League member to the Boards on nearby Ridgefield Patch, claiming a Ridgefield resident and other CCDL members would be at the Newtown Starbucks between 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 9. [The post has since been deleted by the user.]

"Really makes me sad that instead of demonstrating at their own Starbucks, there are people who feel the need to go to Newtown to terrorize that still shell-shocked and traumatized community," Concerned Citizen writes. "This is beyond insensitive."

"This has nothing to do with terrorizing anyone," writes Matt Bottali, the author of the Facebook status. "This is about showing that those of us who carry a firearm or are firearm enthusiasts are good, honest people, we have families we want to protect and are nothing to be afraid of."

In response, activist group Newtown Action Alliance issued a statement Thursday afternoon urging gun rights organizations to stay away from the coffee shop's Newtown branch.

"Our community is still healing and we find it reprehensible that they are picking Newtown to rally," writes NAA co-founder Dave Ackert. "It is disturbing to think that tomorrow night you and your children may be sitting in Starbucks when people carrying guns walk through the door."

The Starbucks in Newtown is about 19 miles from the Starbucks in Ridgefield.

Starbucks Policy on Guns

Activists on both sides of the gun debate have cited Starbucks' policy, which is, according to the company's website:

"We comply with local laws and statutes in all the communities we serve." 

Starbucks spokesperson Danny Cowan told Patch the company does not endorse "Starbucks Appreciation Day."

"Our stores are gathering places for the communities we serve," said Cowan. "We respect the diversity of our customers. We realize there are deep-standing passions on gun ownership. We abide by the laws that permit open carry. However, where those laws do not exist, open carry in Starbucks in prohibited ... We encourage both customers and advocacy groups on both sides to share their input with their public officials. We are extremely sensitive to the issue of gun violence in our society, and we believe by supporting local laws is the best way for us to provide a safe environment for both our partners and customers."

An official at the Connecticut Citizens' Defense League was not available for comment at present. Based out of Groton, the organization is a "non-partisan, grassroots organization devoted to advocating rights affirmed by the Constitutions of the United States of America and the State of Connecticut," according to their website.

"We welcome anyone who believes that the defense of our constitutional rights is critical to the longevity of our freedom and to the success of this nation, and in particular that the rights to self defense and to keep and bear the arms to actualize that defense, are fundamental and undeniable," they write.

Connecticut law allows the carrying of handguns with proper permits, according to the National Rifle Association.
Sanchez August 15, 2013 at 09:31 AM
As suspected, nothing but ad hominem attacks from clare.
Ted McGwallis August 15, 2013 at 10:30 AM
Clare, you first referred to Sanchez as being a Nazi. How do you possibly expect anyone to take you seriously? Seriously, do you think Hitler wanted anyone other than his troops and puppets to have guns? That makes no sense whatsoever. I'm quite sure Sanchez is not a Nazi, based on his comments. But to throw down the "Nazi card" onto someone is the final desperate act of a failing argument.
Clare August 15, 2013 at 02:07 PM
Oh grow up and stop your whining. He's a gun nazi not a Nazi. Do you all require a full explanation of every little nuance? You are ALL so boring with your shallow, one-note lives. Get out and read more and not that far right, conservative crap you have been reading.
Ted McGwallis August 15, 2013 at 03:39 PM
Clare, your words to Sanchez - "Therefore, your are a Nazi. Live with it you ignorant fool. " You did call him a Nazi, capital "N". As far as reading goes, perhaps you should take your own advice and get out more often, instead of responding to Sanchez or to me for that matter. It seems rather apparent you are not here to actually comment, but more so to name-call and boss others around. Sorry to see that, because Free Speech is a treasure, not a tool.

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