Starbucks says leave guns outside, East Tennessee customers react

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) -- Starbucks is brewing up more than just coffee these days. CEO Howard Schultz made a controversial request to gun owners: leave your guns outside.

"If you've got a permit, you've got a right to carry it with you. And I'd feel safer if I had one on me," said Nick Hill, who is against the request.

"At the end of the day, people again are certified and they have to be permited for those weapons. So I feel like if Starbucks has their opinion, that's fine, but at the end of the day, people should still be able to carry," said Christine Horwege.

Starbucks made it clear guns aren't banned, just discouraged. The company said customers who bring in weapons will still be served. The CEO said he decided to make the "no guns" request after gun rights advocates held what they called "Starbucks appreciation days", encouraging gun owners to show up with their weapons.

Many customers said they're happy about the news.

"To begin with, I was surprised that at one point they were welcomed apparently in their stores. So my reaction is good, I don't want to go in with somebody pointing a gun down at their hip. I'd like to have a relaxing cup of coffee," said Dan Pitts, who supports the request.

"You don't neccessarily need a gun to walk into Starbucks and get a coffee, If you have a problem and you have a carry permit, put it in your car. Leave it in there and if you need it, run and get it," said Tyler Russell.

But just because guns are no longer welcome in Starbucks, doesn't mean customers feel safer.

"If somebody is gonna do something, they're going to do it," said Russell.

"If somebody wanted to rob Starbucks, they would not read the policy on the door to not bring a gun in. They'd come in with a gun anyway," said Hill.

The CEO said that his personal views on guns did not factor into the policy change. Schultz said it's about the Starbucks coffee company and the customers.

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