Controversial gun shop owner holds pro-gun rally in Inverness

Posted at 12:10 PM, Jul 04, 2016
and last updated 2016-07-04 17:28:05-04

A Bay Area gun shop owner who stirred controversy after banning Muslims from his business is gaining more attention.

This time, Andy Hallinan organized a March for gun owners on July 4. Participants came locked and loaded.

"There's a lot going on in the world today, and as we've seen over the last few months, it's hitting closer to home," participant Darrell Downs told ABC Action News.

A crowd of open-carry supporters took to the streets in Inverness Monday morning.

"The second amendment was put there by our forefathers, and it should stay that way, exactly as it was written," said John Crouch.

Organizers say the message behind the five-mile march through town is to inspire patriotic Americans to take action now to stop what they call attacks on second amendment freedoms.

"You can ban the guns, you can ban the assault rifles, but the bad guys are going to have them anyway," said Debra Pucillo, a participant in the march.

"Lawful gun owners and law abiding citizens are catching [criticism] for things like Orlando. A gun was used by a criminal illegally, and so there's a huge run to ban AR-15s from lawful gun owners like us," said Florida Gun Supply owner Andy Hallinan.

Hallinan told ABC Action News that he wants to hammer that message home to lawmakers. Participants were told to come with their guns locked and loaded.

"It's not the guns that are the issue. It's the mentality of the radicals using the gun in an illegal way," said Hallinan. "We want Americans to stand up and make some change and stop being silent."

However, not everyone in Inverness agrees with that stance. Local business owner Sophia Diaz-Fonseca displayed a powerful message across a billboard in front of her business. The sign detailed the names of people killed by assault weapons across the country over the past two years.

"That is the last weapon that anybody should have in their hands. That could, at the drop of a dime, turn and decide that they have a statement to make, and that statement results in people that are killed," said Diaz-Fonseca.

Hallinan made news last year when he declared his business a Muslim Free Zone, even putting signs up for sale.

March participants don't plan to give up their fight. According to some, lives are at stake.

"If the good guys don't have them, we're not safe," said Pucillo.

Organizers were very happy with the turnout. Around 300 people participated.