Many gun ranges have various safety rules that go beyond your typical Four Rules we all know and love. To be fair, ranges often create those rules because of various factors up to and including an attempt to address specific issues they’ve seen either on their range or elsewhere. While they don’t always make sense to folks, it’s their range. They can enact whatever rules they want.
Don’t like it? Well, you know where the door is.
However, a Muslim woman is calling one such rule an act of religious discrimination.
A Lee’s Summit gun range discriminated against a Muslim woman by denying her access to their facility, according to a Washington, D.C.-based civil rights organization that demanded an immediate federal probe on Thursday.
Rania Barakat said staff at Frontier Justice denied her access to the gun range after she refused to remove her hijab, a religious head covering worn by Muslim women.
“I’ve encountered racism before, but it was never to the point that someone has told me to remove my scarf in order to enter a facility to do any type of activity like this,” she said.
Now, if that’s true, that’s awful.
After all, the Second Amendment applies to all of us. While private businesses can do what they wish, discrimination is always wrong, even if it was somehow legal, and should be called out.
Yet the problem is, was Barakat really the target of discrimination, either religious or racial?
Well, it sure doesn’t look like it.
The couple enjoys going to gun ranges and had visited others without any issues with her hijab. But when Barakat and her husband approached the cashier, she was told that she must remove her hijab to go into the gun range.
“We were kinda both confused and honestly really shocked to hear this,” Barakat said.
Barakat told the employee that she couldn’t remove her scarf because of her religion.
The employee pulled up the dress code policy on a computer and said, “hats, caps, bandanna, or any other head covering will be removed in the facility, except baseball caps facing forward.”
The employee had the gun range manager come over, who said the dress code was for her safety and that gun particles could come back and burn her and her scarf.
In other words, it was an all-encompassing rule that just happened to also include hijabs. While that may suck for Muslim women who wish to use the range–and an exception should be considered for them, in my humble opinion–it’s hardly an act of racial or religious discrimination. After all, there are a lot of other kinds of headwear that fall under that category as well.
Now, does that make the range all copacetic? Not really. While Barakat is screaming about discrimination when I don’t think that’s really the case, the range should have also understood that Muslim women cannot remove their head covering in public. It’s simply not an option. It’s probably good policy to at least consider that.
That said, the range didn’t just make up this rule for no reason, either. Nor did anyone cite her race or religion as the reason for her being turned away.
During Barakat’s visit, no one cited religion or any of her personal attributes as a barrier to access to the range, according to the statement from Frontier Justice. She was invited to stay in the store and shop, but would not be allowed on the range unless she complied with the safety rules.
“We cannot have a head covering on the range that could potentially catch brass and cause an adverse and unsafe movement of a person holding a firearm,” the company said. “There are hundreds of videos of persons on a range that have brass hit their skin, who then flinch and have killed bystanders because of the uncontrolled action in response to the hot brass.
“It doesn’t matter if it’s a hoodie or a head scarf, potential hazard is there and as a business catering to the public, we cannot assume this risk.”
I think Barakat is probably going to have a hard time proving her discrimination claim, and honestly, there’s a part of me help that wonders if, as with so many “hate crimes” that turn out to be hoaxes, how much of this might have been in hopes of being turned away and hoping to cash in on that policy, even if it wasn’t really about her faith? I hope that’s not the case, just like I hope she can find another range to shoot at, but you can’t discount the possibility either.