Starbucks and the “Open Carry” of weapons…You decide

The Second Amendment is in the news this week, with “Open Carry” proponents appearing in various public establishments openly carrying firearms, while opponents of open (or concealed) carry of weapons in such places decry these actions and try to bring pressure to bear on businesses to disallow the public displays. The coffee chain, Starbucks has been the focus of the debate, much covered in the press and on TV.

The Second Constitutional Amendment preserves our right to keep and bear arms:

From The People’s Guide to the United States Constitution:

Amendment 2.

A well-regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.

The militia could be called together quickly when needed during the Revolutionary War because citizens possessed their own weapons. This amendment preserves the right of the people to have weapons for their protection.

Unlike many of the pro/con Second Amendment disputes over the last few decades, however, the issue here is not over Americans’ right to own firearms, but over American’s rights to “bear” arms. As recently as 2008, the Supreme Court affirmed not only the individual’s right to “keep” firearms, but also to “bear” them, in the case District of Columbia et al. v. Heller.In this case, the Court ruled that “bear arms” means “simply, the carrying of arms…”

Webster’s 1828 Dictionary defines “bear” as: “To carry; to convey; to support and remove from place to place”

On one side of the issue now is a group of citizens inspired, at least in part, by the views of the “Open Carry” movement: http://www.opencarry.org/ whose slogan is “a right unexercised is a right lost.”

On the other side is the Brady Campaign (http://www.bradycampaign.org) who consider that “the open carrying of firearms in public places is inherently threatening and intimidating, and poses risks to those nearby, to law enforcement and to the community.”

The proving ground for this contest of views on our right to bear arms is most recently the Starbucks coffee chain, even though other major businesses like Wal-Mart, Barnes and Noble, Best Buy and others similarly allow the carry of firearms. Starbucks has taken the position that these arms bearers are law-abiding, and that the issue belongs in the legislatures and courts, and is not for them to take sides on. They have consequently declined to disallow service to customers carrying arms.

Still other major businesses such as California Pizza Kitchen and Peet’s Coffee & Tea have decided that they will not allow customers carrying firearms on their premises unless they are members of law enforcement.

The Brady Campaign and others are seeking by petition and demonstrations to cause Starbucks to enact similar bans on their premises, while the “open carry” advocates celebrate Starbucks and others for not arbitrarily taking sides.

All of this raises important and interesting questions regarding your constitutional rights.

Is the Brady Campaign asking Starbucks by public pressure to do what the Supreme Court would not do – i.e. disallow the carry of firearms?

Does the notion of “public safety” trump the right to openly carry firearms?

Ben Franklin said that “Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.” Does this apply to the Brady Campaign and other opponents of “open carry?”

Is it fair in this post–9/11 world to flaunt firearms in public even though it is legal to do so, possibly causing the re-aggravation of emotional wounds most of us experienced due to that violence?

Does this exercise of Second Amendment Rights by the “open carry” advocates violate any of your other Constitutional rights?

YOU decide – and let us know what you think!