You may have read reports of a lawsuit that has been filed against a Lee’s Summit, Missouri gun store alleging that they discriminated against a Muslim woman who wanted to shoot at the store’s range. Rania Barakat says she was refused service on the Frontier Justice range because she was wearing a hijab.
Stories of the lawsuit have been picked up nationally and paint Frontier Justice as a bunch of Islamophobic racists. This from the Washington Post . . .
The couple told the manager they had used several other shooting ranges with no problems caused by the hijab, and that people wear long sleeves and shirts that cover their necks to protect them from shrapnel, according to the lawsuit.
The manager said the gun range had different rules, according to the lawsuit. The couple left the store after the manager became “aggressive and loud,” the suit alleged.
The lawsuit contends that it is Frontier Justice’s policy to turn away Muslims wearing hijabs, citing several social media posts from other Muslims about being refused use of the shooting range. It also claims that Instagram posts from Frontier Justice show customers wearing baseball caps turned backward, and hats and scarves.
“It is completely unacceptable for a business establishment to deny service to customers based on their religious beliefs — and that is exactly what Frontier Justice has done,” Moussa Elbayoumy, chairman of the board of CAIR-Kansas, said in a statement. “The claim that a hijab somehow presents a safety issue is merely a bad excuse in an attempt to justify a pattern of discriminatory treatment of Muslim women.”
The scrupulously fair and impartial journalists at the Associated Press claim that Barakat was “ordered to remove her hijab.”
“I’ve encountered racism before, but it was never to the point someone told me I had to remove my scarf in order to enter a facility or do any type of activity like this,” she said. “It was very shocking to both my husband and I.”
She later discovered online reviews about Frontier Justice that were written by other Muslim women who had also been told they needed to remove their hijabs to shoot.
“To have this happen to me personally, it was very sad and, you know, frustrating,” Barakat said. “And I would never want anyone to go through what I went through.”
The Kansas City branch of CAIR, the Council on American-Islamic Relations, claims that Frontier Justice’s policy has nothing to do with safety and is only intended to exclude Muslims.
[CAIR-Kansas City’s Moussa Elbayoumy] contended the range’s policy is not based on any legitimate safety concerns, but is meant to exclude Muslim women.
“Frontier Justice, you know, says they value faith, family and freedom,” Ghalawanji said. “That appears to be their motto, but, however, their actions tell us that they have shown otherwise.”
TTAG spoke with Frontier Justice’s CEO Mike Brown who told us that, contrary to the Associated Press’s report, Ms. Barakat was never ordered to remove her hijab. He said Frontier Justice has been serving customers of all ages, sizes, shapes, colors and religions — including Muslims — since they opened.
According to Brown, Frontier Justice has had an “appropriate dress” code in place for years that’s designed to minimize the chances of shooters winding up with hot brass between their clothing and their skin.
If you want to see what can happen when hot brass gets between clothes and skin, watch this.
Brown told us that Ms. Barakat was offered the option of shooting on a simulator or wearing a “swimmer’s hijab” (which the store keeps on hand) on the live fire range. Barakat refused those offers and told store personnel she’d be contacting her attorney.
As the incident happened almost two years ago, I asked Brown if he’d been in contact with Barakat or her attorneys in the mean time trying to work something out. He said he hadn’t heard anything more about the matter until the lawsuit was filed — one day before the statute of limitations would have expired.
Brown provided TTAG with the following written statement explaining the store’s policy and how it’s applied to all customers.
As addressed two full years ago with Ms. Barakat’s legal team, Frontier Justice remains firm in our stance that we do not discriminate against anyone. We will not apologize for safety rules that are designed with our client’s best safety practices in mind.
It is a large responsibility to own and operate a sporting venue because of the serious safety measures that must be taken to ensure everyone’s safety. We have clients on our ranges from the age of 8 to 100 that rely upon our steadfast commitment to their safety. Our dress code was created in 2015 when we opened, with this very concern.
The four firearm safety rules, found here (The Four Fundamental Firearm Safety Rules – Frontier Justice (frontier-justice.com), can be inadvertently overridden if a shooter’s expended brass finds its way to bare skin, exacerbated if it finds skin and is trapped against skin by clothing barriers. This can result in what the industry has dubbed, “the hot brass dance”.
This type of incident has been known to, on tragic occasions, take a life. It is not the person who is shooting that is usually injured but someone in proximity that ends up with the muzzle pointed in their direction as the person tries to free themselves from burning brass.
It is our desire to mitigate as much risk with the sport as we possibly can. We want patrons to feel safe and comfortable while enjoying the shooting sports. Our dress code is one way we mitigate this risk.
We remain steadfast in our commitment to safety and our safety rules. We have not had any complaints from anyone wearing a hijab about our policies except from this one patron, mentioned above, which stems from an alleged incident that occurred two full years ago.
Her complaint ignores that we offer the alternative of the use of the simulator while wearing a hijab. Or we have in our inventory and have procedures in place to offer a swim hijab to any Muslim women who wish to enter the range but have come unprepared for the safety of the sport with their apparel.
It is this same type of solution we offer to ladies who might come with low cut blouses that we offer a t-shirt solution. The t-shirt prevents brass from becoming a hazard by going down to their chest the same way a swim hijab mitigates the risk of brass getting caught in fabric next to the neck or chest.
Many examples of this safety risk and need for these policies can be obtained with a simple google search of “hot brass dance” or “brass burns”. Our safety rules are necessary for the safe operation of our services and activities.
Please visit our website for a complete listing of our rules, which are also posted in the stores.
“It saddens us that anyone would say we are not inclusive, given that we serve all races and religions every single day in all of our stores. We pride ourselves on this fact, and we strongly believe in America and the Second Amendment that is for every single American. Period,” Bren Brown, President