Meet Jan Morgan. A blogger, Second-Amendment activist, firearms instructor, former TV anchor, and shooting-range owner, she’s found herself caught up in quite the imbroglio over the past few days. You see, Morgan says she will no longer have Muslims at her range. This is what sealed her decision:
Two Muslims walked into my range last week with Allahu Akbar ring tone and message alert tones on their smart phones. They spoke very little English, one did not have proof of U.S. citizenship, yet they wanted to rent and shoot guns. They were constantly glancing toward the cameras in the range, then looking at each other and speaking in their own language. Their behavior was so strange, it frightened my patrons. No one would enter the range to shoot while they were there. Some of my customers left.
Did that really happen? The account strikes me as a bit iffy. (The Islamic ring tones and message alert sounds are almost a little too “perfect.” And… would it be customary for a shooting-range owner to inquire about customers’ citizenship? Hmm.) But I wasn’t there and neither were you, so I suppose we’ll have to take Morgan’s word for it. I did check her blog a few times to see if she’d shared the footage taken by those cameras on the range; so far, that doesn’t appear to be the case. (There could be a good reason for that. Maybe Morgan, despite her suspicions, didn’t want to identify and incriminate two people who hadn’t done anything illegal.)
Morgan also says that, even before her ban, she had received serious threats from Muslims who were livid that she’d pointed out, on her blog, that the Qur’an contains lots of violent messages. That has made her extra-cautious, she claims — and she adds that last week’s Oklahoma beheading, a horror carried out by a devout Muslim, didn’t help.
Is she over-reacting? Morgan says she has genuine cause to be worried.
To understand why I am concerned about Islamists, you must first take into consideration the nature of my business. 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. In the range, people are shooting guns in close proximity to each other, so my patrons depend on me and my discretion regarding who I allow to shoot beside them. One mistake in judgement on my part could cost innocent people their lives.
It’s a pretty damn interesting case. State and federal law rightly prohibit discrimination on the basis of a customer’s religion (or lack thereof). If that legislation were invoked by Muslims with standing — who could prove that they were turned away from Morgan’s shooting range because of their religion — Morgan would probably lose in a court of law.
I do wonder, however, if the special nature of her business would give her a defensive toehold; it’s inarguable that running a shooting range presents risks that don’t apply to the owner of a flower shop or a bakery. Plus, Morgan is dealing with conflicting guidelines from the government, she says. Though a business may not refuse to serve clients based on their faith, the agency that oversees guns may give gun dealers and shooting-range personnel considerable leeway to turn away people they consider a risk:
I have a federal firearms license [FFL]… The ATF informed us when we received the 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 person’s mental state, even if they pass a background check, we do not have to sell that person a gun. Two different ATF agents stressed that it is better to err on the side of caution. In other words, a federal agency has given FFL [carriers] discretion on firearms deals. [We] can turn people away if there is any concern about their behavior, and/or [we suspect there are] plans for use of the firearm in the commission of a crime.
Meanwhile, gun-owning godless folks (like me) are still welcome at Morgan’s range. She says that her customers are from all kinds of religious backgrounds.
[S]ome are atheists… I do not care about [customers’] 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.
What do you think? Considering the business that she’s in, and the death threats she says she’s received — and given the frequently violent nature of hard-core Islamists — should Morgan be able to turn all Muslims away? Or only those whom a reasonable person would find suspicious? Or none at all?
(Image via Shutterstock)