The Florida chapter of the Council on American-Islamic relations filed a federal lawsuit on Tuesday against a gun shop whose owner declared his place of business a "Muslim-free zone" in a YouTube video that made headlines earlier this month.
The owner, Andy Hallinan told USA Today that the lawsuit was "bullshit."
His lawyer, Robert Muise, told that newspaper that there was no discrimination, and that people are "being turned away for public safety." He called the suit "bogus," and "frivolous." This is probably because according to some interpretations of discrimination law, you can totally refuse business to everyone in an entire religion, as long as you're consistent, and you claim there's some kind of basis—in this case, "safety."
Hallinan began his YouTube video by sitting in front of the Confederate flag, reminding viewers about the origin story of the stars and bars, in case you haven't been cornered by one of your conservative relatives lately. Then he points out that he's not doing it because he's a racist, adding "because I'm not." He announces that his store's concealed carry classes are free, but then demands that attendees "cover our hard costs like insurance, gun rentals or ammunition," making the classes, by definition, discounted rather than free.
Then he says "effective immediately, I'm declaring Florida Gun Supply as a Muslim-free zone." He explains that the recent shooting rampage in Chattanooga, Tennessee had given him "a moral and legal responsibility" to protect "patriots," by keeping all Muslims out of his gun shop.
In 2015, it might seem like a savvy business move to let your bigot freak flag literally fly in a YouTube video. After all, when Memories Pizza in Walkerton, Indiana announced that they would refuse to furnish a hypothetical gay wedding with pizzas, after the inevitable internet shame attack, supporters gave them over $800,000 when they started a GoFundMe campaign.
The court filing itself, which was filed on behalf of muslims "who have a right to purchase guns, browse guns, take classes on gun safety, shoot guns at the range, and visit the gun range for entertainment purposes and not be discriminated against," doesn't ask for damages. It seeks an injunction that would prohibit the shop from discrimination based on religion.
Presumably, the injunction would be symbolic. It's a little weird to imagine the group winning the suit, and then having Muslims flood Hallinan's business with money after a judge told him he legally had to take it.
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