Paul Chandler, the owner of Altra Firearms in rural Jackson Center, Pennsylvania, says he turns customers away at his door who are Muslim or who are supporting Hillary Clinton for president.
The 54-year-old business owner posted a sign on the door of Altra Firearms conveying those rules, and he’s currently running an ad in a local newspaper declaring: “Please NO Muslims or Hillary Supporters — We do not feel safe selling to terrorists!”
Chandler told ThinkProgress that, as the owner of a store that brands itself as “politically incorrect firearms,” he is free to turn Democrats and Muslims away.
“She’s clearly stated that she doesn’t think Americans should have what she calls ‘assault weapons’ or even guns themselves,” he said about Clinton. The Democratic nominee has said she believes in people’s right to keep an bear arms, and will not abolish the Second Amendment.
“It’s incrementalism,” he added. “She will take one gun away and then she’ll take the next gun and the next gun until finally there’s no guns. So if you’re supporting her, I’m not going to arm you.”
The stance is nothing new — Chandler said he has had a sign on his door telling supporters of President Obama to “go to hell,” and that he has never been comfortable selling firearms to Muslims.
“They want to destroy America, they want to destroy the American way of life,” he said. “And so we’re putting more and more Muslims, the religion that has declared war against us, here, and I don’t feel safe arming them.”
As for Obama and Clinton supporters, Chandler said they have clearly stated they “want to take guns out of the hands of people, and if they don’t want guns in the hands of people, I’m helping them not to be a hypocrite.”
After speaking with ThinkProgress, Chandler shared three photos on Altra Firearms’s Facebook page showing the signage around his store. The Facebook page has since been deleted.
The Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination on the basis of religion at public accommodations, although it’s unclear if a gun store qualifies. In 2015, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) sued a different store in Florida which declared itself a “Muslim Free Zone.” But the lawsuit was thrown out when a judge ruled that the store’s policy “did not present an imminent and concrete threat to Muslim people.” A representative from CAIR said the group “lost because of legal standing, not because of the merit of its argument,” according to the Washington Post.
Representatives from the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives argue that licensed gun deals have broad discretion to deny sales, like in instances where they believe a customer is making a straw purchase. Chandler maintains that his discrimination on the basis of religion is completely legal, and that he’s acting just like a bartender who refuses to sell drinks to intoxicated patrons who have to drive home.
“We have a responsibility not to sell weapons to people we think would use them in a crime or do something illegal with them,” he said, before adding that he does not believe gun buyers should be subject to criminal background checks. “I have to be honest with you — I do not feel safe selling weapons to Muslims.”
“I’m not denying them the right,” he continued. “They can buy a gun somewhere else. I’m just not going to be the one to sell it to them.”
Chandler did acknowledge that he would have no way of knowing if a customer were Muslim unless they told him, and that he would be willing to sell to one if he were to “condemn the actions of these Muslims who are killing people.”
When ThinkProgress asked if other buyers are asked to condemn the violent actions of strangers, Chandler said he would have the same test for a Black Panther or a white supremacist. He did note that the fact that someone were wearing a swastika would not be enough for him to refuse a sale.
And asked if Christians have to condemn all of the violent acts committed by members of their religion, Chandler said he’s happy to condemn “so-called Christians who are bombing abortion clinics,” but that the Christian faith “does tend to police their own” while he said Islam does not.
“The Muslim faith is pushing the agenda,” he said. “Go to Detroit… They want Sharia law.”
In eight years of refusing Muslims and telling Obama supporters to “go to hell,” Chandler said he has had only had one customer complaint. One man wrote him an angry letter saying he would not patronize the store, but did not include his name. Chandler said he would share the letter on Facebook, but then he deleted his Facebook page.
One local Pennsylvania paper refuses to carry Altra Firearms’ ad, Chandler said, but he continues to periodically advertise in three or four other papers. A representative for the Area Shopper, which has run the ad, was not immediately available for comment.
The National Rifle Association was also not immediately available for comment.
While many employees at his store are Donald Trump supporters, Chandler says he will be voting Constitution Party for president because he doesn’t trust Trump’s commitment to the Second Amendment. Chandler said that he and Trump do agree that we should “ban all people of the Muslim faith” from entering the United States “until we get it under control.”