Most Muslims support gun safety reforms reports CAIR, as right-wing publications criticise Sheriff’s links to organisation in wake of Florida shooting

A recent survey conducted by the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), which is the U.S.’s largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, reveals that 93% of Muslim voter households support the requirement of background checks for all gun sales and other increased safety reforms to gun laws[1].

73% of respondents support stricter gun laws in the U.S., while 87% support requiring a mandatory waiting period on gun sales and 80% support a ban on semi-automatic rifles[2].

CAIR National Executive Director, Nihad Awad, commented that the results “clearly indicate that, like the vast majority of Americans of all faiths and backgrounds, Muslim voters support gun safety reform measures to keep firearms out of the hands of those who would misuse them to harm others”[3].

CAIR supports gun safety reforms which could prevent mass shootings and is calling for federally-funded research into the causes and effects of gun violence in the U.S.[4]. This follows its history of campaigning for gun safety reforms over recent years, which has included the organisation’s criticism of reforms, such as the “No Fly, No Buy” proposal banning gun sales to people placed on the federal government’s error-prone federal watch list, which it believes disproportionately targets American Muslims and are ineffective[5]. CAIR backed Republican legislators in voting down the No Fly, No Buy legislation, as did the American Civil Liberties Union and the National Rifle Association (NRA)[6].

The study was conducted independently by phone and surveyed 1,250 registered Muslim voter households in 27 states[7]. States with the largest number of respondents included Texas, California, Illinois, and Michigan[8].

The survey also revealed that 70% of respondents think public officials would have responded differently to the recent school shooting in Parkland, Florida had the perpetrator been Muslim[9].

Among online right-wing publications in the U.S., CAIR has garnered attention with regard to the recent school shooting in Parkland, Florida, as one of the deputies of Scott Israel, the sheriff of Broward County where the shooting occurred, is the former executive director, and is currently second-in-command, at the Florida branch of CAIR[10]. Hamze reportedly “often frequents mosques to deliver speeches glorifying the Islamic community” and “trains congregants on active shooter situations”[11]. While they portray CAIR as linked to Islamist groups, the publications also report that Sheriff Israel himself “has repeatedly cozied up to radical Islamic groups” and “[i]n a seeming attempt to build bridges, he has elevated several mosques with congregants and leaders who have detailed connections to terrorist organizations”[12].

The publications use these alleged links with CAIR and mosques to continue the criticism which has been aimed at the Broward County Sheriff’s Department since the shooting, with the Conservative Review commenting, “[i]f the Broward County Sheriff’s Department seeks to reform, it should focus on police work and not enter into partnerships that corrupt the legitimacy of law enforcement officers”[13].

Frank Gaffney, Jr., who has worked as an expert on security for U.S. governments over the years, also made comments along these lines, writing “[f]or years, Deputy Hamze has been allowed to provide weapons training to Sharia-supremacists like him at Florida mosques. Had Sheriff’s Office resources been applied instead to training law enforcement or school personnel, an actual threat to public safety might have been mitigated, rather than potentially creating new ones”[14].

CAIR’s ideology has been criticised as Islamist before[15], with the United Arab Emirates including the group on a list of designated terrorist groups and organisations in 2014, along with the Muslim American Society[16]. However, despite involving controversy in the past, the group is not designated a terrorist group by the U.S. government[17]. The Anti-Defamation League has also criticised the group for its “anti-Israel” agenda[18].

[1] CAIR, 2018.

[2] CAIR, 2018.

[3] CAIR, 2018.

[4] CAIR, 2018.

[5] CAIR, 2018.

[6] CAIR, 2018.

[7] CAIR, 2018.

[8] CAIR, 2018.

[9] CAIR, 2018.

[10] Schachtel, 2018; Moore, 2018.

[11] Schachtel, 2018.

[12] Schachtel, 2018; see also Laila, 2018; Howley, 2018; Moore, 2018.

[13] Schachtel, 2018; see also Laila, 2018.

[14] Gaffney, 2018.

[15] See Newton, 2017.

[16] Taylor, 2014.

[17] Taylor, 2014.

[18] ADL, 2017.

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ADL. (2017) ‘The Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR)’. [online] [Accessed 28 February 2018].

CAIR. (2018) ‘CAIR Poll: Muslim Voters Overwhelmingly Support Universal Background Checks for All Gun Sales’. [online] 26 February. [Accessed 28 February 2018].

Gaffney, Jr., F. (2018) ‘Investigate Broward County Sheriff’s ‘Deputy Hamas,’ Too’. [online] 26 February. [Accessed 28 February 2018].

Howley, P. (2018) ‘BREAKING VIDEO: Sheriff Scott Israel Spoke Arabic at Muslim Gathering, Said He Keeps Kids Out Of Jail, Puts God Before Community’. [online] 26 February. [Accessed 28 February 2018].

Laila, C. (2018) ‘Flashback: Deputy and CAIR Director Nezar Hamze Brags About Sheriff Israel Immediately Investigating People Targeting Muslim Community (VIDEO)’. [online] 28 February. [Accessed 28 February 2018].

Moore, A. (2018) ‘Broward Deputy Works for ‘Muslim Mafia’’. [online] 26 February. [Accessed 28 February 2018].

Newton, C. (2017) ‘Republican calls CAIR a Hamas-linked ‘terrorist group’’. [online] 10 February. [Accessed 28 February 2018].

Schachtel, J. (2018) ‘In Broward County, Florida, CAIR polices you’. [online] 26 February. [Accessed 28 February 2018].

Taylor, A. (2014) ‘Why the U.A.E. is calling 2 American groups terrorists’. [online] 17 November. [Accessed 28 February 2018].