The Right to Bear Arms? Muslim Americans and Second Amendment Rights: Part 1

This piece is the first of a two-part series on Muslim Americans and Second Amendment rights. Read the second post here.

By Serena Rabie
Associate Editor, Vol. 21
Executive Editor, Vol. 22

The recent shooting at Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida has reinvigorated two of the most tense debates of the 2016 election cycle—Muslim immigration and gun control. In the immediate aftermath of the shooting, presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump reiterated his call for a temporary ban on Muslim migration to the United States. Trump and other politicians were quick to point to radical Islam as the problem, while others pointed to America’s loose gun control laws as the reason for the attack. Theoretically, this means that Arab and Muslim Americans attempting to purchase firearms should face opposition from both sides of the aisle—from gun control proponents and those who blame Islam for domestic terrorist acts. This begs the question: what happens when Muslim Americans attempt to exercise their Second Amendment rights?

In April 2016, the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) of Michigan penned a letter to the Macomb County Clerk to express their concern that an Arab-American was denied his Second Amendment right because of his Arab name. The letter alleges that a husband and wife came to their office seeking a Concealed Pistol License and Concealed Carry Weapon. The wife used her maiden Anglo-Saxon name and was immediately approved, meanwhile, her husband submitted an application with nearly identical information and was denied because his application “seemed suspicious.”

This comes on the heels of a lawsuit filed last summer after a Florida gun shop owner, Andy Hallinan, declared his shop a “Muslim-free zone.” The Florida chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-FL) filed the suit, which alleged religious discrimination. The CAIR-FL chief executive director, Hassan Shibly, characterized the discrimination as widespread. He argues that the silence of the gun associations while gun shop owners attempt to openly discriminate against a class of Americans exposes Muslim Americans to a double standard. Shibly’s argument is lent credence by the statements of the gun shop owner himself. Hallinan challenges the notion that Muslim Americans have the right to bear arms. He argues that Muslims are “citizens of the Prophet Muhammad and Sharia law.” At least one of his customers shares this view and suggests that Muslim Americans should not be allowed to own guns—“if you’re Muslim, you’re Muslim” she posits.

Similarly, Jan Morgan, a prominent gun advocate often referred to as “the First Lady of the Second Amendment” went viral for her post, titled “Why I Want My Range to be a Muslim Free Zone.”  Morgan states that she “refuses to train the next terrorists” on her range, and argues that even though she knows that not all Muslims are terrorists, she believes adults should be held “accountable for the religion or organizations they align themselves with.” Morgan has also alleged that she has been threatened with violence for expressing these views, and as a result is always “heavily armed.” She also expresses her gratitude to the Founding Fathers for the directive to the government that this right “shall not be infringed.”

The inconsistency here is obvious. If one truly believes that the right to bear arms “shall not be infringed,” they need to believe it regardless of the religious, ethnic, racial, or gender identity of the individual attempting to exercise those rights. Muslim Americans are entitled to equal protection under the law, and that includes the Second Amendment.