May Missouri Shooting Range Discriminate Against Muslims?

Today’s Complaint was filed in Barakat v. Brown (W.D. Mo.) Mo.)

[21.] Frontier Justice imposes a discriminatory headwear ban that prohibits, “Hats, caps, bandanas or any other head covering…except baseball caps facing forward.” (Frontier Justice Membership and Range Rules – Dress Code). Exhibit 1.

[22.]According to Defendant Mike Brown’s guidelines and their headwear bans, Frontier Justice has denied Muslim hijab wearers entry. This was based on their dress code policy violations. Frontier Justice also allows similar-situated individuals to access their facilities.

If the policy was indeed just a pretext for discriminating against Muslims (even if only some Muslims), or was otherwise discriminatorily enforced against Muslims, that would probably indeed violate the public accommodations provision of the federal Civil Rights Act of 1964, though that’s not completely clear. Only certain types of businesses are covered by the Act:

The following establishments are public accommodations if they serve the public and if their operations have an impact on commerce.

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(1) Any inn, hotel or motel that provides accommodation to temporary guests.

(2) A restaurant, cafeteria and lunchroom which sell food on their premises. [and]

(3) any motion picture house, theater, concert hall, sports arena, stadium or other place of exhibition or entertainment ….

Place is the only category that might cover gun ranges.[s]Exhibition or entertainment Daniel v. Paul (1969) held that this term includes “recreational areas” and not just places for spectators to watch events (as in the theaters, concert halls, and stadiums that are listed in the same subsection); United States v. DeRosier (5th Cir. 1971) likewise held that a bar qualified because of the presence of a “juke box, shuffle board and pool table for the use and enjoyment of the bar’s patrons.” Ask if a shooting range is considered different because it’s partially (largely)? principally?) Focused on the practical aspects of training rather than entertainment.

[2.]Missouri has a broader anti-discrimination statute that covers shooting ranges which are open to all (emphasis in added).

“Places to public accommodation” [means] all places or businesses offering or holding out to the general public, goods, services, privileges, facilities, advantages or accommodations for the peace, comfort, health, welfare and safety of the general public or such public places providing food, shelter, recreation and amusement, This includes, but is not limited to:

(a) Any inn, hotel, motel, or other establishment which provides lodging to transient guests …;

(b) Any restaurant, cafeteria, lunchroom, lunch counter, [or] soda fountain …;

(c) A gasoline station that includes all amenities located within its premises, and which are made accessible to customers thereof.

(d) Any motion picture house, theater, concert hall, sports arena, stadium, or other place of exhibition or entertainment …..

So if this is a range that most members of the “general public” can just go into and use —as opposed to a “private club,” which is exempted from the law—then the owner is legally barred from discriminating among patrons based on religion (or various other attributes). However, I think that the state statute requires the plaintiff to first file a lawsuit before the Missouri Commission on Human Rights. The plaintiff then decided to directly go to the federal court pursuant to the federal statute. This is something it could do without having to first file such a complaint.

The moral rights and wrongs of antidiscrimination legislation are left to the experts. What I can offer is a legal analysis.