‘Make Sure Not to Talk Any Arabic’: American Muslims and Their Guns

‘Make Sure Not to Talk Any Arabic’: American Muslims and Their Guns

When Sheima Muhammad takes her Glock pistol to her local gun range in central Ohio, she gets funny looks. As a 25-year-old woman, she stands out from the other customers, who are mostly older men. Then there is the matter of her head scarf. “I don’t get looked like as a normal person who’s just trying to protect themselves,” said Ms. Muhammad, who emigrated from Turkey as a baby with her family, who are Kurds, and is a naturalized American citizen. American Muslims like Ms. Muhammad say they own guns for the same reasons as anyone else: for protection, for hunting and sport shooting, for gun and rifle collections or for their work. They also cite another factor: fear of persecution, at a time when hate crimes against Muslims have soared to their highest levels since the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. But owning a gun is no assurance of security. Muslim gun owners are viewed with suspicion by gun stores, ranges and clubs, and occasionally met with harassment. Ms. Muhammad said she decided to buy a pistol after a frightening encounter with a stranger in the parking lot of the grocery store where she worked in Columbus. “I just felt defenseless,” she recalled. “I did not feel like I could protect myself. It took a toll on me even until today. I’m overcautious, always watching my back.” She goes to the gun range once a week. “People stare at me and look me up and down, […]

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