Gun shop owner cancels meeting with Muslim group

He changed his mind.

A Citrus County gun shop owner who initially declared his business a "Muslim-Free Zone" had a brief change of heart this week and planned to meet with leaders of a Muslim group, but he has since canceled the meeting. "I had no idea what I was getting myself into," said Andy Hallinan, owner of Florida Gun Supply in the newest video posted on the company's Facebook page.

He told us during an interview, "The reason they want to meet with me is they want to put a headline on their website that says Islamophobe gun owner turns polite and sees that Islam is peace. There is absolutely no way I am going to help promote them."

Hallinan told FOX 13 that after his initial video, he spoke with the executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, Hasan Shibly, and that they had arranged to have the meeting.

CAIR members were expected to take concealed weapons classes at Florida Gun Supply on Saturday and afterward, sit down with Hallinan to discuss the Qur'an. 

"They were excited," said CAIR-Florida spokesman Hasan Shibly. "This (was) a chance to reach out to the other side, to educate, to break down the walls of ignorance, because ignorance is our biggest enemy."

Shibly said he hoped to have an open discussion with Hallinan on the Islamic faith and possibly change Hallinan's belief that Islam's core foundation was evil.

By Thursday, Hallinan had changed his mind and updated the business Facebook page with a video explaining his decision to cancel.  

"Thankfully hundreds of emails poured in with links and information about who this organization is and I cannot in good faith meet with them and certainly cannot train with them," he said. "The United Arab Emirates have declared CAIR as a terrorist organization. That's reason enough for me to not invite them down to Florida Gun Supply."

Hallinan drew controversy with his initial video in which he stood in front of the Confederate flag and declared his business a "Muslim-free Zone" as a response to the killings of five U.S. servicemen in Chattanooga. "I have a moral and legal responsibility to ensure the safety of all patriots in my community, and so effective immediately, I am declaring Florida Gun Supply a 'Muslim-free zone'. I will not arm and train those who wish to do harm to my fellow patriots," he says in the video.

He insists he's not advocating any mistreatment of Muslims: "The last thing I want to see is violence or condescending or people spitting on Muslims, that's just not the right way to do it."

Thousands of people viewed that video within a matter of days, including Muslims from CAIR, who had planned to call on the Department of Justice to investigate possible federal civil rights violations.

"What is the most disturbing is how many people are going on Facebook and spitting in the Constitution's face," said Shibly.