Inverness, Florida is a place most people probably haven’t heard of, including many folks who live in Florida itself. When you think of Florida, you usually think of Disney World, or the Miami beaches, or maybe the “Florida Man” stereotype. The “Florida Man” stereotype is based on whenever something bizarre happens – like a sea turtle volunteer being shot with his own gun by someone who hates sea turtles – chances are it happened in Florida. There’s even a section of Reddit called “Florida Man!” along with a Tumblr account devoted to the strange news stories that come out of the Sunshine State.
Anyhow, Inverness is about an hour to the north-west of Orlando, on the west side of Interstate 75. Back when I lived in Orlando, my friend and I drove through there often as we made fishing trips to Crystal River or Homosassa Springs, and I can tell you that if you haven’t heard of it before now, you aren’t missing anything. Inverness is 93% white, the median age is 55, there’s really no industry to speak of in the entire county, and people aren’t exactly rich either. In other words, it’s a Tea Party and gun fanatic stronghold.
So it’s no wonder that an Inverness, Florida gun shop owner and open carry proponent would declare his store to be a “Muslim-free Zone” as a publicity stunt – especially since the chances of any Muslim living in Citrus County, let alone frequenting his gun shop, are extremely low.
A Florida gun store owner has announced that Muslims are now banned from his gun shop.
Andy Hallinan, owner of Florida Gun Supply in Inverness, says that, effective immediately, his store is a “Muslim-free zone.”
In a controversial video posted online, he speaks of the history of the Confederate flag and goes on to say, “Our leaders are telling you Islam is a peaceful religion full of tolerance and love and hope. Don’t believe their lies.”
Hallinan stated that last week’s deadly shooting in Chattanooga, Tennessee, was the final straw for him.
He is also offering concealed-carry classes for free and is opening his gun range to anyone who wants to use it. (Source)
Andy Hallinan is getting a lot of publicity from conservative blogs such as Conservative Post or Conservative Tribune with clickbait headlines like “BOOM: Fed-Up Gun Shop Owner Just Did THIS to All Muslims After Chattanooga Terror Attack.” They’re portraying him as an American hero standing up to radical Islam, by loudly announcing he’s discriminating against an entire religion, in a town that likely doesn’t have a single Muslim resident. If Andy Hallinan really wanted to take on radical Islam, perhaps he could schlep on over to Iraq or Syria and join the Kurdish Peshmerga in their fight against ISIS. Then again, that wouldn’t give him the 15 minutes of conservative media fame he is desperately seeking.
In case you’re wondering if someone had set up a GoFundMe account for this guy when he started claiming that he was being persecuted like the Memories Pizza folks did, there is an account that he set up some months back to build the shooting range mentioned in the story that fell well short of its $25,000 goal. It’s only a matter of time before this guy claims he’s under attack, and he’s already stated he’s added more security to his shop. Make a statement announcing you plan to discriminate against people who probably wouldn’t do business with you anyhow, claim you’re being attacked, rally support from like-minded bigots, and then cash in. It’s a simple strategy, and based on the willingness of right-wing fanatics to blindly throw money and support to anyone who professes to hate the same people they do, it is wildly successful.
You can watch his video in its entirety here.
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