In an act that will no doubt result in lawsuits, The Gun Cave Indoor Shooting Range in Hot Springs, Arkansas, has declared itself a “Muslim free zone” due to concerns over domestic Islamic terrorism. The ban was announced yesterday by range owner Jan Morgan in an article posted to her web site where she cites ten points justifying her position.
Among the points cited are prior attacks in the United States that the federal government refuses to classify as terrorism, including the Fort Hood attack, the Boston Marathon bombing, and the last week’s Oklahoma City beheading. Morgan has also received death threats in the past for her writing about Islam.
Another incident that weighed heavily in Morgan’s decision was an incident at her firing range several weeks ago, which she relayed to Bearing Arms this morning.
Morgan claims that two Muslim men who spoke only broken English came to her range and requested to rent semi-automatic firearms and ammunition. One of them could not produce any identification showing that he was in the country legally, and the other had a California driver’s license. Neither had any apparent firearms training. 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.
She brings up a very valid point that gun stores and ranges have both a legal and moral obligation to ensure the safety of their patrons. Because of this, they may refuse service to anyone they deem to be under the influence, mentally unstable, or otherwise a potential threat to themselves, or others. FFLs are afforded a great deal of latitude in this regard, as the federal government would rather err on the side of caution.
While FFls 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. This is no more legally viable than a ban on Baptists or Catholics.
Morgan expects that she will be sued over the decision for civil rights violations, and is gearing up for a court battle. She claims that so far she has received support from all 50 states, and very little criticism.
Other Second Amendment supporters, such as Caleb Giddings of Gun Nuts Media, are strongly against Morgan’s decision:
Here’s an important point: yes, there are terrorists. There are quite a few terrorists who are followers of this or that sect of radical Islam. Those are bad people. But the 2nd Amendment isn’t for those people, the 2nd Amendment is for Americans. All Americans. Regardless of race, religion, sex, or creed. 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.”
To me, that’s what the most frustrating thing about this. Yes, it reinforces negative stereotypes about my people; yes it’s bigoted; and yes it’s likely a desperate attempt for relevance from someone that no one’s ever heard of. But most importantly, and most frustratingly it absolutely misses the point of what the 2nd Amendment, and what this entire country is all about. This is the United States of America, and while we’re not as good at the whole “freedom” thing as we used to be, we’re still the best in the world. People in this country are absolutely free to pray to whichever god they wish, and those same people are free to own and use firearms for their self-defense, recreation, hunting, or any other lawful purpose. The 2nd Amendment is acivil 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.
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.