The Florida gun store owner who made headlines last year for declaring his shop a "Muslim-free zone" and this month began selling gun targets featuring the faces of President Barack Obama as well as Democratic presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders is at it again.
Andy Hallinan, owner of Florida Gun Supply, is now claiming that the U.S. Secret Service investigated him Wednesday. He told the authorities that he understood why his gun store was being looked into but said the targets were not intended to incite any violence.
As TheBlaze previously reported, both the Clinton and Obama targets have been available for a while, but it was only last month that Hallinan added the Sanders version. He even apologized in a video for not showing his "new Bernie Sanders target sooner."
Speaking about the Sanders target, Hallinan said it was all just a "joke."
"We really wanted to poke the bear a little bit," he said in a Facebook Live video posted Wednesday. "All these Bernie Sanders supporters were after us."
"It is our First Amendment right to have a target or anything that is in the likeness of any type of person, whether it be a president or just a person on the street," he continued. "It is legal to have a target that looks like somebody."
But that, apparently, was not enough to keep the agents from investigating him, though Hallinan did describe the Secret Service officials as "nice guys."
Council on American-Islamic Relations spokesman Wilfredo Amr Ruiz, criticizing the targets, asserted that Hallinan broke federal law with the move.
"Andy violated federal law by conveying a threat against the President of the United States," he said, according to the Tampa Bay Times. "Promoting and selling a bulls-eye print of President Obama is not freedom of speech. Andy is inciting violence targeting the President."
However, one legal expert sided with Hallinan's perspective, telling LawNewz.com that the gun shop owner's controversial targets are most likely protected by the First Amendment.
"Generally speaking, the First Amendment protects such speech unless it could be said to ‘incite imminent lawless action,'" Susan Buckley, an attorney at Cahill Gordon & Reindel, said. "Although I would hope that most people would find the targets offensive and irresponsible, the First Amendment should protect them."
Toward the end of the same Facebook Live video, Hallinan announced that he fears Facebook may soon begin blocking him from posting videos about the First and Second Amendments.
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