The family of Lauren Rousseau, one of the four teachers lost on 12/14 - and a former Starbucks barista - has been joined by other family members of those killed, advocacy groups, local clergy, First Selectman Pat Llodra and several other state and federal officials signing a letter asking the global coffee company to ban guns from its retail shops.
Gilles, Joyce, Matthew and Andrew Rousseau lead the list of nearly three dozen signatories on the letter from the Newtown Coalition For Corporate Responsibility. The memo was dispatched two weeks after the Church Hill Starbucks closed early, preventing legally permitted gun owners from gathering there on what was being called "Starbucks Appreciation Day."
According to information on its corporate website, Starbucks abides by the laws that permit open carry in 43 US states. Where these laws don’t exist, openly carrying weapons in their stores is prohibited.
The letter says the many co-signers are "very concerned that your policy undermines the safety and wellbeing of our citizens," also noting that Starbucks prohibits guns in its corporate headquarters.
"Since your company has been a champion of admirable causes in the past, such as LGBT rights and environmental sustainability, some gun owners in this country cite Starbucks’ stance on this issue as justification of the reasonableness of their choice to carry guns anywhere and everywhere, even into a place as unthreatening as a coffee shop," the letter continues
Stating they believe they represent "Starbucks core customers," those signing say "that to prevent another Sandy Hook, we as a society must prioritize the sanctity of human life over the individual’s right to carry.”
Pointing to incidents in Wyoming, Texas, and Florida, "where guns have injured three innocent people at Starbucks in the past two years," the signatories ask the company to give its "customers everywhere the same protection that you afforded Newtown."
"If you make the decision to ban guns, your company has the chance to honor the 26 innocent lives lost here in Newtown and the 32,000 Americans lost annually to gun violence by becoming a leader in educating the public about firearm safety."
The letter also invites Starbucks corporate decision-makers to the store in Newtown to talk about the company’s policy and gun violence in America.
US Senators Chris Murphy and Richard Blumenthal, Governor Dannel Malloy, Rep Elizabeth Esty and Mrs Llodra joined family members of slain first grader Noah Posner, Principal Dawn Hochsprung, Mary Sherlach, Victoria Leigh Soto and Rachel D’Avino signing on to the cause.
Among others signing are the principal of Newtown's Fraser-Woods Montessori School, a second grade teacher at the Sandy Hook Elementary School, and a SHS parent.
Local clergy members Rabbi Shaul Praver, Rev Matthew Crebbin, Rev Kathleen Adams-Shepherd, Rev Mel Kawakami, Rev Jane McCulloch Sibley, and Deacon Norman Roos, Jr, also signed the letter.
Members of Newtown Action Alliance, Jr. Newtown Action Alliance, a local field director for the National Gun Victims Action Council, the county leader of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, United Physicians of Newtown, and members of the local cycling group Team 26 also signed on in support.
In a related story, Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America called for a boycott of Starbucks on Saturday, August 24.
A post on the group's website reads: "On August 24th, Moms Demand Action is asking mothers to participate in Skip Starbucks Saturday to show Starbucks that we want gun sense with our coffee. Instead of buying your daily coffee, we’re asking you to take action."
The group asks that site visitors sign a petition asking the coffee company to ban guns from all its stores; to share the news about "Skip Starbucks Saturday;" or to donate the money they would have spent at the shop to the Moms Demand Action cause.
This story was updated to with information about "Skip Starbucks Saturday," and to include Starbucks' information on its open carry policy.