#3 – WASHINGTON
A Shot of Caffeine
The West’s discovery of caffeine is likely responsible for The Enlightenment, and centuries of advancement in the fields of science, art, medicine & technology. Caffeine was so important, in fact, that the Boston Tea Party of 1773 – a protest by colonists over a tax on tea – escalated into the American Revolution!
Hundreds of years later, caffeine is a ubiquitous part of our society, with an estimated 90% of the population consuming the mind-altering drug on a daily basis. Even children – in the form sodas – depend on 1, 3, 7-trimethylxanthine to overcome yesterday’s sleep deprivation and get through the current day, only to restart the cycle tomorrow.
Coffee Culture's Second Wave
The King of Coffee worldwide is hands-down Seattle’s own Starbucks. Founded in 1971, the company boasts more than 33,000 stores in 80 countries, more than half of which are located internationally. Through their tasteful store décor, high quality Fair-Trade certified beans and countless coffee experiences, Starbucks remains the undisputed leader in global coffee output.
Coffee culture has become almost synonymous with the ideological left. From hippies to millennials, activists & awareness groups coast to coast frequent the chain to bask in the warmth of caffeine & comfort. And no coffee shop embodies the culture of coffee like Starbucks.
It would seem Starbucks an unlikely venue to host meetups of libertarian-leaning, gun-toting “open carry” champions. But in 2013, that idea took off around the country.
And just like that, Starbucks found themselves an unwitting participant smack dab in the middle of the national gun debate.
Even with their big-tent attitude, management, employees & customers found the guns in their local stores almost unbearable.
It’s unknown if the venue was chosen as a deliberate annoyance, or if the combo of convenience, comfort & coffee just made Starbucks the best option for the gathering gun advocates. Regardless, it was not long before the drama became a media sensation.
The question at the heart of the debate was simple: does a private business like Starbucks have the right to ban guns from its stores?
The answer, of course, is a resounding YES! Any private business, especially so in any state where open carry is legal, has the right to restrict patrons from bringing guns onto the premises.
All Starbucks had to do was enact the revised policy and the drama would come to an abrupt conclusion….
Starbucks’ CEO Howard Schultz respectfully requests that you leave your weapons at home.
To the great surprise of the Starbucks stakeholders, CEO Howard Schultz penned an open letter, asking activists on both sides to ratchet down their rhetoric and friction, while stopping short of an all-out ban on guns in the store.
Violence on the Rise
In 2021, Washington state saw a 795% increase in gun sales, and a whopping 1300% increase in ammo sales! This is no surprise, given the number & frequency of “mostly peaceful” protests in the area, including Seattle’s CHOP & the Vancouver WA/Portland OR regions.
It’s up to each open carry participant to decide between personal safety and/or respecting Starbucks’ request. But maybe now is a good time for the chain to re-evaluate their position, given the recent closure of FIVE Seattle stores due to a severe increase in local crime and a lack of safety.
Liberty Under Attack
Article 1 of the Washington State Constitution is a simple Declaration of Rights, with Section 24 clearly proclaiming the Right of the Individual to Keep & Bear Arms “in defense of himself or the state”. Luckily enough for the people in Washington, the legislature managed to not make a mess of this clearly defined Right for quite a while.
But though the Washington state constitution still recognizes the right to bear arms, Initiative 1639, passed in 2018, is looking to reign in some of those gun freedoms.
The good news – more than half the county sheriffs in the state have publicly stated they are unwilling to enforce the new laws, citing a wide range of excuses, from the unconstitutionality of the laws to the fact that the new laws really leave “nothing to enforce”.