SEATTLE -- Those who prefer to drink their lattes packing protection on their hip turned out at Starbucks shops across the country on the first day of a "buycott" organized by gun owners, countering the Starbucks boycott called this month by the National Gun Victims Action Council.
The issue of Starbucks allowing gun owners to openly carry their weapons in states that have "open carry" laws has been simmering for years. The new boycott, which launched last week, aims at persuading Starbucks to join a growing list of retail chains that prohibit guns even when they are otherwise legal.
"Starbucks allowing guns to be carried in thousands of their stores significantly increases everyone's risk of being a victim of gun violence," Elliot Fineman, head of the Chicago-based council, said in a news release announcing the boycott.
Most of the visible action seemed to be on the buycott side of things, though, as gun groups across the country urged their members to show up at Starbucks -- not necessarily with their weapons -- and spend.
Joe Huffman, a Seattle software engineer who writes a gun blog based in his native Idaho, reported that he and his friends spent $131.64 at the Starbucks in Seattle's main shopping district Tuesday.
"I wasn't carrying a gun. I did have a jacket on that had (a National Rifle Association) life member patch," Huffman said. "I wanted to demonstrate that even though they're under a lot of pressure, we're very appreciative of them standing up against those people."
Similar "Starbucks Appreciation Day" demonstrations were reported in several states, including Hawaii, Tennessee and Michigan, as well as in several suburban communities around Seattle, where Starbucks is headquartered.
"I threw out the idea of a Starbucks appreciation day on my online forum and ... it caught fire," said Dave Workman, editor of the Gun Mag, based in Bellevue, Wash.
"These guys want Starbucks to act as their surrogate, to push this social bigotry against gun owners, and I think the gun owners have responded rather well," Workman said. "The gun guys are willing to put their money where their mouth is, while the anti-gun guys are trying to take money away from Starbucks."
In a statement, Starbucks reiterated that its policy is to comply with the law in the communities where its stores are located.