(NEW YORK) -- The head of Starbucks is asking customers not to mix coffee with guns. In an open letter posted online Tuesday, Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz writes that the coffee chain is "respectfully requesting that customers no longer bring firearms into our stores or outdoor seating areas." This applies even in states that allow people to openly carry a firearm in public.
Schultz says the exception is authorized law enforcement personnel.
In the past, Schultz notes, Starbucks' "approach to 'open carry' has been to follow local laws: we permit it in states where allowed and we prohibit it in states where these laws don’t exist."
But that has led gun rights advocates to use the chain's stores "as a political stage for media events misleadingly called 'Starbucks Appreciation Days' that disingenuously portray Starbucks as a champion of 'open carry,'" the CEO says. And that, he adds, is something the company does not want.
While noting that his decision is a request and not an outright ban, Schultz asks "open carry" advocates to "please respect that Starbucks stores are places where everyone should feel relaxed and comfortable."
"The presence of a weapon in our stores is unsettling and upsetting for many of our customers," he adds.
Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio