Shams Mustafa_headshot

The two latest mass shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, changed my mind about what it means to own a gun. It seems that now no matter where I go, there is a chance that I can witness an active shooter. Maybe it’s time I use my right to bear arms.

The Second Amendment gives the right to any American to possess a gun, but the truth is minorities like Muslim-Americans are not welcomed in gun stores, ranges and usually suffer harassment regarding gun ownership.

Raja’ee Fatihah, an American Muslim, U.S. veteran and former N.R.A. member, visited the Save Yourself Survival and Tactical Gun Range in Oktaha, Oklahoma, in July of 2015.

“I thought that visiting that gun range would be a good way to build a bridge with those people, who I knew already had some animosity toward Muslims,” he told the Washington Post.

But as soon as the workers found out he was Muslim, he was asked to leave. The American Civil Liberties Union of Oklahoma, and the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) of Oklahoma sued the range, and the U.S. District Court Judge Beth Bloom ruled that the store’s policy did not present an imminent and concrete threat to Muslim people.

Hassan Shibly, the executive director of CAIR Florida, told the New York Times that he received death threats because of his advocacy on behalf of Muslims, and that’s why he bought a gun.

“The solution to the problems we face is not more violence or even more guns. It is engagement, education, service, community organization, political involvement,” he said.

Around four years ago, three Syrian students were shot in the head in their apartment near the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill campus. The suspect was their white neighbor who posted on his Facebook that he happened to hate Muslims. He walked free with a gun on his belt. If they had possessed a gun, would they have been able to protect themselves? Yes, perhaps they would be alive today, but only if everyone regardless of their religion, race or color were able to purchase a gun.

According to a 2017 study done by The American Journal of Public Health on loaded handgun carrying amongst adults, around 3 million people carried loaded handguns every day, with protection cited as the primary reason. However, one out of five people carrying a concealed handgun without a permit, even in states where a permit is required.

There is no doubt that guns are important for protection and defense, but from whom? It shouldn’t be easy for people to purchase a gun without any background checks. It shouldn’t be easy to allow a bigot to own a gun in the first place.

Shams Mustafa is a general assignment reporter. Contact her at smustaf2@kent.edu

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