Starbucks takes a stand on guns
Seattle-based coffee chain Starbucks cornered the coffee market by marketing its shops as a "third space" between home and the office where many of the functions of each can be carried out in a soothing atmosphere – accompanied by one its coffees, of course.
It has seldom strayed into controversies immediately outside its sphere, but now its chief executive Howard Schultz has called on its customers to leave their firearms at home.
Mr Schultz's intervention comes after multiple mass shootings in America, the latest in which 12 people were murdered by gunman Aaron Alexis in Washington this week.
The coffee guru penned an open letter to customers, in which he stopped short of completely banning guns from his stores, but said: "Our stores exist to give every customer a safe and comfortable respite from the concerns of daily life."
Previously its policy had been to defer to gun laws in the areas in which they operate, which even permitted people to bring guns into its stores.
That enraged advocates of gun control, who have long lobbied Starbucks to follow the example of other shops and cafes by outlawing guns.
Their previous tolerance of guns had witnessed them become a poster child for the pro-gun lobby, a development which may have prompted Schultz to take a stand.
We can count ourselves deeply lucky that our own Starbucks here in Northern Ireland do not have to grapple with such life or death issues.