A Florida gun shop owner’s video declaring his store a “Muslim-free zone” has sparked controversy with some people believing he may be violating civil rights.
“We’re in battle, patriots,” Andy Hallinan, 28, is heard saying in the video (shown below), as he sits in front of a Confederate flag with his arms crossed. He posted the video to Facebook.
Hallinan is a self-proclaimed high school dropout from Massachusetts who became a gun shop owner in Inverness shortly after the tragic theater shootings in Aurora, Colorado, in 2012, FOX 13 reported.
“Something snapped in my soul and I've been on a quest,” Hallinan told the news station. He said his quest is to arm and train as many people as he can to make Central Florida a safe place to live.
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But in the wake of the recent shooting deaths of five U.S. servicemen in Chattanooga, Tennessee, Hallinan made a video introducing a new rule for his shop.
“I have a moral and legal responsibility to ensure the safety of all patriots in my community, and so effective immediately, I'm declaring Florida Gun Supply as a ‘Muslim-free zone,’” Hallinan said in the video. “I will not arm and train those who wish to do harm to my fellow patriots.”
He posted the video on the company’s Facebook page and it received plenty of mixed reactions.
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“I meant to be offensive,” Hallinan told FOX 13. “I meant to stir debate.”
While the video had its fair share of supporters, not everyone agreed with Hallinan’s new rule, particularly Jeff Berman.
“As a combat vet who fought side by side with the Muslim community, I know the difference between extremism vs. those who want a peaceful life in America,” Berman said, according to Fox 13. “There are millions of Muslims in [the] U.S., so discriminating against them generally, is wrong.”
But Hallinan says he has another goal in mind.
“My goal is to offend people so they start to realize that the political correctness is a threat to our civilization,” he said. “We're seeing these Jihadis get bolder and bolder and bolder the more politically correct we get.”
The gun shop owner admitted that his new rule would be nearly impossible to enforce, according to WFLA. He said he turns two to three people away a week if he deems them as a potential threat to the community with a firearm.
Hallinan said that he understands that the majority of Muslims are not violent extremists, but he believes that Islam’s core foundation is evil.
Executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations in Tampa, Hassan Shibly, said Hallinan’s comments are misinformed and hurtful. He spoke with Hallinan Monday and said the gun shop owner believes that in order to be a devout Muslim, you have to want to kill.
While Shibly believes that Hallinan is violating civil rights, he says legality is the least of his concerns.
“He knows very little about Islam and Muslims and I hope we can use this [as] an opportunity,” Shibly said. “I think we'll change some minds and hearts through conversation and not allow our enemies to divide us.
“Hopefully we build stronger unity amongst a wider group of people that share his similar views ... that's what we want out of this ultimately.”
The Department of Justice is now investigating whether Hallinan is violating any civil rights, according to WFLA. While the message itself is not illegal, if Hallinan follows through with his intent, he may allegedly be breaking the law.
Photo Credit: Screenshot from YouTube