Don't bring guns into our stores. That's a request Starbucks is making to its customers in an open letter online.

The appeal comes days after a mass shooting in Washington, but Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz said that had nothing to do with his decision. Rather, it was the use of its stores by pro-gun advocates to hold what they call "Starbucks Appreciation Days".

Schultz wrote, "Pro-gun activists have used our stores as a political stage for media events misleadingly called 'Starbucks Appreciation Days' that disingenuously portray Starbucks as a champion of 'open carry.' To be clear: we do not want these events in our stores. Some anti-gun activists have also played a role in ratcheting up the rhetoric and friction..."

The company policy had called for following local laws, allowing guns at its cafes in states that permit them and prohibiting them in states without such laws. That made the coffee shop chain a target of the national debate over the right to bear arms. The anti-gun group, Moms Demand Action, had previously called on customers to skip Starbucks on Saturdays. It said today, "We thank and congratulate Starbucks for making this decision and for taking the safety of our children and families as seriously as mothers do."

Starbucks says it won't ban guns outright at its 7,000 cafes because its staff would have to potentially confront armed customers. Schultz says he doesn't fear losing any customers over his move.