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article imageNewtown Starbucks closes ahead of planned gun rights rally

By Martin Laine     Aug 10, 2013 in Politics
Faced with the prospect of armed gun rights activists gathering in their shop, the management of the Newtown, Ct., Starbucks wanted no part of it and decided to close early.
Nevertheless, a handful of gun rights activists did show up, as did a small group of opponents, milling around outside briefly as a steady rain fell.
The planned rally was part of a nationwide “Starbucks Appreciation Day” organized by gun rights advocates to recognize the Seattle-based company’s policy of allowing patrons to bring their firearms into their shops in states where it is legal. Connecticut is a so-called “open-carry” state.
The decision to hold such a rally at the Newtown Starbucks on Church Hill Road touched a particularly raw nerve in this town where just eight months ago, 20 first-graders and six adults were killed in a shooting at the Sandy Hook Elementary School. The tragedy prompted a renewed effort to impose tighter controls on the sale of firearms. Those attempts are vigorously opposed by gun rights advocates who claim they violate their Second Amendment right to bear arms.
Jamie Riley, a spokesperson for Starbucks, told Digital Journal yesterday that the company does not endorse the rally in any way. However, the company does recognize that patrons may enter their shops with their weapons wherever the law allows.
A notice posted on the door of the Newtown Starbucks echoed that statement. It also noted that the decision to close was made out of respect for what the town had been through.
“Out of respect for Newtown and everything our community has been through, we have decided to close our store early today,” according to a story in the Hartford Courant.
Some of those who showed up for the rally were surprised and disappointed to find the shop closed.
“I traveled down here to support Starbucks for supporting the Constitution only to find that they have closed their doors to me and putting up a sign to me insinuating that I am insensitive and disrespectful,” said Don Basile, 51, of Watertown, in the Courant article.
A small group of gun control advocates also came to the Newtown Starbucks and held signs a short distance from the gun rights group.
“We are not intimidated. We are not just going to go away, and we feel just as strongly, if not more strongly than they do. We are going to be here even with the threat of some kind of gathering like this,” said Heather Smith, 35. She is a project manager for Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America and a member of the Newtown Action Alliance.
There are no reports of any incidents between the two groups.
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