The judge said the plaintiff, Counsel for American Islamic Relations (CAIR), could not prove discrimination against any of its members at the store, but the judge did acknowledge that the Muslim-free zone policy could be a violation of Title II of the Civil Rights Act.
Andrew Hallinan, Florida Gun Supply owner, said he believes the judge understands freedom of speech had prevailed.
“I have a right to sell guns to whomever I please,” Hallinan said.
Hallinan declared Florida Gun Supply a Muslim-free zone after the July 16 shooting in Chattanooga, Tenn., that killed five U.S. military personnel. Morgan and Morgan filed the lawsuit on CAIR’s behalf.
The group plans to file an appeal next month. But Hallinan is celebrating the dismissal for now.
“My message for CAIR today: justice has been served and victory is sweet,” he said.
He said he believes there are peaceful Muslims on the planet. Still, he said he cannot arm and train a person who believes in his or her heart it’s the right thing to kill religious unbelievers.
Thania Diaz Clevenger, civil rights director for CAIR Florida, said the lawsuit has given the organization an opportunity to work on an appeal. She said the suit is not about CAIR. It’s about the Muslim community being denied a basic right to enter a store. She compared it to the whites-only signs at restaurants, restrooms and other public establishments back in the 1950s and ’60s.
“The complaint wasn’t dismissed on the merit. It was just a jurisdictional issue,” Diaz Clevenger said. “Regardless of what his feelings personally are toward the organization, he’s denying a right that’s entitled to the public at large.”
Read the judge’s dismissal order here.
WUFT News reporter Ali Schmitz contributed to this story.