The owner of a shooting range in Arkansas said she has declared her business a “Muslim-free zone,” citing public safety concerns following the Oklahoma beheading attack, the Boston Marathon bombing and the 9/11 attacks.
“I will do whatever is necessary to provide a safe environment for my customers, even at the cost of the increased threats and legal problems this decision will likely provoke,” Jan Morgan, the owner the Gun Cave Indoor Firing Range in Hot Springs wrote in a blog post Sunday.
Morgan listed 10 reasons behind her decision to bar Muslim customers, including death threats she said Muslims have made against her, last week's beheading attack in Oklahoma, the 2009 Fort Hood shooting, the 9/11 attacks, Muslim-Americans who have traveled to Syria to join terrorist groups and honor killings.
“Why would I want to rent or sell a gun and hand ammunition to someone who aligns himself with a religion that commands him to kill me?” Morgan wrote.
Photo credit: Shutterstock/aj_mascari
“I understand that not all muslims are terrorists. I also believe there are as many Muslims who do not know what is in their Koran as there are Christians who do not know what is in their Bible,” she wrote. “Since I have no way of discerning which muslims will or will not kill in the name of their religion and the commands in their koran…I choose to err on the side of caution for the safety of my patrons.”
Morgan wrote that last week, two Muslim men who visited her shooting range had “Allahu akbar” ringtones programmed on their cellphones.
“They spoke very little english, one did not have proof of U.S. citizenship, yet they wanted to rent and shoot guns,” Morgan wrote. “Their behavior was so strange, it was unnerving to my patrons. No one would enter the range to shoot while they were there. Some of my customers left. (can you blame them?)”
“The ATF informed us when we received the [federal firearms] license that if we feel any reason for concern about selling someone a firearm, even sense that something is not right about an individual, or if we are concerned about that persons mental state, even if they pass a background check, we do not have to sell that person a gun,” Morgan wrote. “In other words, a federal agency has given us this kind of discretion for service based on the nature of the business. I can and have turned people away if I sense an issue with their mental state.”
Anticipating accusations of discrimination based on religion, Morgan wrote: “I view Islam as a theocracy, not a religion. Islam is the union of political, legal, and religious ideologies. In other words, law, religion and state are forged together to form what Muslims refer to as ‘The Nation of Islam.’”
“It is given the sovereign qualities of a nation with clerics in the governing body and Sharia law all in one. This is a Theocracy, not a religion. The US Constitution does not protect a theocracy,” Morgan asserted. “The 1st Amendment is very specific about protecting the rights of individuals from the government, as it concerns the practice of religions, not theocracies. It clearly differentiates between government and religion. Again protecting the individual’s religious beliefs and practices from (the state) government. In Islam religion and state are one.”
“If you had received death threats by muslims, would you want the government telling you that you had to allow them in to your home or business and hand them a loaded gun?” Morgan continued. “This is not a coffee and donut shop. This is a live fire indoor shooting range. People come here to buy, rent, and shoot lethal weapons. … [P]eople who shoot at my range come from all religious backgrounds… some are atheists… I do not care about their religious beliefs until or unless those beliefs command them to commit violent crimes against innocent people and I witness those crimes increasing, as we all have lately."
Morgan’s decision drew criticism both from the Council on American-Islamic Relations, which called it “Islamophobia,” and from gun rights advocates.
Islamophobia Watch: Arkansas Firing Range Become First To Exclude Muslims... http://t.co/AaW5s1B416
— CAIR National (@CAIRNational) September 29, 2014
Caleb Giddings of Gun Nuts Media harshly criticized the shooting range owner’s move and accused her of carrying out a PR stunt that is “tragic” and “bigoted.”
“It would be easy to dismiss Jan as a desperate attention seeker, someone who’s just trying to drum up a national media frenzy and get more eyeballs on her blog with this stunt, and honestly that’s probably the most appropriate reaction,” Giddings wrote. “Instead, what Jan Morgan’s bigoted blog post and business decision have done is reinforce every single negative media stereotype that exists about gun owners.”
“I can imagine the HuffPo getting a hold of this and gleefully driving all the attention they can to it: ‘SEE? We told you that gun owners are bigoted rednecks who hate people!’ Thanks for feeding the negative stereotypes, Jan. We really appreciate that,” Giddings wrote.
“Last time I checked, the important text of the 2nd Amendment didn’t say ‘the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed – unless you’re black, Muslim, or gay,’” Giddings wrote. “The 2nd Amendment is a civil right the same as the 1st Amendment. What Jan Morgan is doing is denying an entire group of people, an entire group of Americans, access to a fundamental civil right, simply because she doesn’t like the god they pray to and the holy book they read. That misses the entire point of everything America is supposed to be about.”
The gun range owner told the editor of the Bearing Arms blog, Bob Owens, that when the two Muslim customers visited her business last week, “she allowed them to rent one firearm, and stood behind them the entire time they were on the range, her hand on or near her holstered Glock 19. All other patrons voluntarily vacated the firing line while they were shooting,” Owens wrote.
“While FFls [Federal Firearms License] and range operators have a great deal of latitude in their business dealings, it is doubtful that a blanket ban based upon religion is remotely viable on First Amendment grounds,” Owens wrote. “This is no more legally viable than a ban on Baptists or Catholics.”
“While Morgan may have a valid concern than some Islamic terrorists may attempt to use firing ranges or gun shops to acquire weapons, it isn’t acceptable to ban an entire religion from service under our Constitution. The Constitution and Bill of Rights must apply equally to all of us, or they aren’t worth anything at all,” Owens added.