Starbucks owns more than 8,800 coffee houses worldwide; including licensees, there are more than 16,000 locations. If the company were to have a policy that, say, resulted in tainted food and drinks that sickened its customers, we would all agree that such a threat should be communicated to the American public.
Well, there is a policy that is just as dangerous.
The decision by Starbucks to welcome guns in its restaurants where the law permits represents a public health risk. While food-borne illnesses are estimated to kill 5,000 Americans each year, more than 30,000 of us are killed annually by firearms. Guns represent a public health threat at least as great as food poisoning. Firearm fatalities are consistently ranked as one of the leading causes of death among young people in America. As Dr. David Hemenway of the Harvard School of Public Health wrote in 2004, "Across U.S. regions and states, where there are more guns, children are at a significantly greater risk of dying."
After hearing complaints from individuals concerned about "real-life Yosemite Sams," as The Times describes them, the Brady Campaign kicked off its petition drive. Starbucks says it wants to be left alone. But imagine the outrage -- possibly even on The Times' editorial page -- were the company to offer the same response after being cited for serving food tainted by E. coli.