When we reported last fall on a Hot Springs firing range that was declared a “Muslim free zone” by its owner, several blog commenters asked, “how will she know who’s a Muslim?” The answer, unsurprisingly, seems to be good old fashioned racism. The Times was contacted over the weekend by a college student from Hot Springs who went to the Gun Cave with his father for a round of target practice.
They’re not Muslim, but they do happen to be South Asian. They were told to leave by a woman, presumably Jan Morgan, the owner.
“My dad and I used to go to this gun range,” said the young man, who asked not to be identified by name, “but we haven’t had as much of a chance to go in recent years since I’ve been at college. It’s changed ownership recently.”
“When we went in, a woman asked, ‘Where are you guys from?’ We told her we were from Hot Springs. She said, “this is a Muslim free shooting range,” so if we are [Muslim] and if we don’t like the rule, then leave. We said that we’re not Muslim, but my dad asked, ‘Why is it Muslim free?’ and they started having a conversation. Then, all of a sudden, I don’t know what went wrong, but she stopped us from filling out the paperwork and said ‘I don’t think you guys should be here.’ She told us to leave or she’d call the cops on us.”
Not wanting to cause a scene, they left.
“We’re brown; I don’t know if she assumed we were Muslim,” he continued. “When she first asked us, she said, ‘I would hope if you were Muslim you guys wouldn’t be cowards and would be up front about it.'” The student told the Times he was born in the U.S. and lived in Hot Springs for ten years before going to college in a different Arkansas town; he considers Hot Springs his home.
He recalls reading about the “Muslim free” shooting range, he says, but “I didn’t know it was this place.” Once he made the connection, he said, “I kept quiet because I just wanted to have some fun and shoot some guns.” He says going shooting with his dad is just something they do occasionally: “father-son time, guy time.”
Neither he nor his father plan to take legal action over the incident; they say they don’t want to stir up trouble. But the student said he felt he had to speak up and let people know about what happened.
“It’s definitely crazy that there’s such intolerance,” he said.
A call to the Gun Cave was rewarded with a swift hangup as soon as the Times was mentioned.