A Florida business owner who declared his gun shop a “Muslim-Free Zone” following the terrorist attack in Chattanooga is now facing a lawsuit due to the policy. The Florida chapter of CAIR (Council on American-Islamic Relations) has filed a federal lawsuit against Florida Gun Supply and its owner, Andy Hallinan.
Hallinan grabbed headlines a week ago when he posted a YouTube video declaring his position on Muslims. Calling the policy a “moral and legal responsibility,” Hallinan said that he couldn’t risk giving guns and training to “those who wish to do harm to my fellow patriots.”
CAIR is asking a federal court to hit Florida Gun Supply with an injunction that would prohibit Hallinan from discriminating against Muslim customers.
The lawsuit marks a turnaround in CAIR’s relationship with Hallinan. Following the release of the video, CAIR representatives reached out to Hallinan and appeared to reach a tentative agreement. Hallinan agreed to meet with and train Hassan Shibly, the Florida chapter’s executive director. He later rescinded that invitation, however, when many individuals contacted him to explain CAIR’s controversial connection to terrorism.
“Unfortunately, he caved in to a lot of the anti-Muslim pressure and anti-Muslim base that he’s pandering to,” Shibly said in an interview with USA Today. “The main issue is that we don’t want segregation to rear its ugly head again in Florida. When he refused to reconsider his position, when he refused to reconsider to be educated, refused to engage this community, refused to respect American law, we had no choice but to bring forward this lawsuit.”
Hallinan has not commented publicly on the lawsuit, but he has maintained from the beginning that he does not discriminate based on religion or race. His lawyer told press outlets that Hallinan’s only concern was safety, and that he was well within his constitutional rights to keep dangerous individuals from procuring firearms at his shop.
It’s clear that Hallinan will not be permitted to enact a NO MUSLIMS policy without running afoul of federal discrimination laws. That said, simply running your mouth on YouTube is not illegal. Unless a judge finds that Hallinan has actually turned Muslims away at the door, CAIR has no case. More likely, they are using the federal court system as a tool for publicity and propaganda. If they can win in the court of public opinion, it’s worth whatever money they spend on this lawsuit.
The bigger issue here is, of course, the subject of profiling. Is it racist to judge Muslims based on the actions of their most extreme followers? Or is there a public safety concern that should take precedence over fears of discrimination? No one wants to see peaceful American Muslims punished for deeds they vehemently oppose, but it’s clear that we must be vigilant about homegrown terrorism. The more the U.S, government warns us of lone wolves, radicalized on the internet, the more we must wonder about the signs of extremism. And if some of those signs make Muslims uncomfortable, it may just be an unavoidable inconvenience.