Gun shop owner cancels meeting with Muslim leader

INVERNESS, FL (WFLA) – Inverness-based Florida Gun Supply’s owner Andy Hallinan has changed his mind again. Eariler this week, he declared his store a “Muslim-free Zone,” in a politically charged Facebook video that went viral. Then, he backed off a bit – inviting a prominent Muslim leader to learn how to shoot. He agreed to host Hassan Shibly, of Florida’s Council on American-Islamic Relations, on Saturday.

But now, he’s changed his mind again, telling News Channel 8, “I owe it to my community to cancel. I have now learned that CAIR has been very connected to terrorism. It’s nothing against Mr. Shibly, but the group itself, I don’t trust.” Shibly is disappointed. “I think he succumbed to the negative pressure he got from the anti-Muslim bigots who were very upset at hearing that a Muslim leader would get trained in a Muslim-free zone,” he said.

Here’s the background: In the Facebook video, Hallinan sits in front of a back-drop of a Confederate flag. He begins talking about Southern Heritage. “This flag represents nothing but the rich heritage of the South and the willingness of patriots to stand up against tyranny of all sorts,” Hallinan says. He says there is more racism in the U.S. now than there was before the Obama administration got into office. “Our leaders are telling you that the cross is a symbol of intolerance and hatred, bigotry and ant-homosexuality. Don’t believe their lies,” Hallinan says.

And then Hallinan says the country’s leaders are lying when they say Islam is a peaceful religion. “We are in battle patriots,” he goes on to say, “but not only with Isalmic extremism. We are also in battle against extreme political correctness that threatens our lives because if we can’t call evil evil for fear of defending people, than we can’t defeat our enemies.”

Then the video takes another turn. Hallinan announces he is offering free concealed carry gun classes and wants “patriots” to “get armed, get trained and carry daily” .. “in case we are ever called upon to defend our lives or our community.” He also declares his store a Muslim-Free zone. He says this is in response to the recent shooting in Chattanooga, Tenn. “I will not arm and train those who wish to do harm to my fellow patriots,” Hallinan says.

The video, posted this weekend, already has more than 21,000 page views and hundreds of comments. CAIR responded with a news release calling for DOJ review. The organization is also asking for a review of another gun shop in New Hampshire that says it is also “muslim-free.” “These bigoted declarations are no different than ‘whites only’ signs posted in businesses during a period of our nation’s history that we had hoped was over,” said CAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper. “The Department of Justice must investigate these hate-filled and un-American business practices to determine whether federal civil rights laws are being violated.”

Shibly says he welcomes the dialog with Hallinan. “Hopefully that shows a positive thing coming out of this, which is hopefully our our ability to build bridges, build understanding and tear down some of the walls of misinformation that may divide us,” Shibly said.

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