Guns and the Wyoming Legislator Proposing the Shari’ah Law Ban

Right Wing Watch has flagged a proposed amendment to the Wyoming Constitution advanced by state legislator Gerald Gay, a Casper Republican, to ban shari’ah:

“To date, no Wyoming court rulings have been based on Islamic law, or Shariah,” the Billings Gazette reports, “But state Rep. Gerald Gay, R-Casper, said his proposed constitutional amendment, House Joint Resolution 8, is meant as a ‘pre-emptive strike’ to ensure judges don’t rely on Shariah in cases involving, for example, arranged marriages, ‘honor killings’ or usury cases.” Gay needs approval of two-thirds of the legislature and the governor’s signature to place the amendment on the 2012 ballot.

Gay is a gun-loving, Tea Party kind of Republican, and although he’s just jumped on the anti-shari’ah bandwagon, the “tyranny” of government has long been his target — literally. In this campaign video, he aims his Smith and Wesson at “cap and trade.”

“Yes, sir,” he concludes, “that’s how we deal with government intrusion into your lives.”

In another video, he shoots socialism; in this one he shoots stimulus and health care. In a video posted on his Facebook page, he proudly “blew the heck out of that big government” by blasting a replica of the Capitol building with his rifle. Apparently he speaks a little Arabic, but thinks if you want to live in America, you should speak English.

I tried to reach Gay but he did not immediately respond to my interview request.

Gay, who on his Facebook page writes the “Holy Bible” is his favorite book (along with Bernard Goldberg’s 100 People Who Are Screwing Up America), says he’s a Christian and touts his “A” rating from the NRA. But his web page at the State of Wyoming Legislature website also says he belongs to the JPFO — Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership. The JPFO, which is popular with militia groups, claims, among other things, that the late Sen. Thomas Dodd asked the Library of Congress to translate the Nazi Gun Control Act of 1938 into English so he could use it for the U.S. Gun Control Act of 1968, and more generally insists that the citizenry needs to be armed against government “tyranny,” which can lead to genocide. This sort of conspiracy theory is not unlike those being promoted by far right Christian groups after the Tucson shootings.

When the group’s founder, Aaron Zelman, died in December, he was praised by one-time Constitution Party presidential candidate Chuck Baldwin (who I interviewed here) as a “tireless defender of the Second Amendment.” And the New American, the magazine of the John Birch Society, recalled an interview with Zelman in which he declared, “We’re not interested in compromise. We are only interested in the destruction of … the evil and deadly policy known as gun control.” The eulogy concluded, “With the loss of such a man as Aaron Zelman, a fair question now is: Who can replace him? Who can fill the void? Who can provide the incisive clarity, the backbone, the leadership, and the courage needed in this most vital of battles? Who, indeed?”

Last year, JPFO sent a survey to its members, “Can the Second Amendment and Islam Co-Exist?”, which it urged them to complete after reading a short article called “The Leader.” The piece called immigration by Muslims “allowing our enemy to live amongst us” and urged Congress to “repel the foray of this dedicated group of killers, including their supporters, and thus ‘provide for the common defense’ of this Judeo-Christian nation:”

Now is time for us – American Jews, Christians, whites, blacks and browns alike – to expel this enemy from within our borders and remove all evidence of their mosques. Further, criminal or terrorist attacks upon any Christian, Jewish or Judeo-Christian individual or nation by a member of an enemy state will bring about nuclear retaliation to one or more of these adversarial harbors.

The survey, posted on the JFPO website, asked, “Would you use The Second Amendment to defend a country created on Judeo-Christian values against another religion as pointed out in the opinion piece?” Eighty-five percent of the respondents said yes.

Sarah Posner, author of God’s Profits: Faith, Fraud, and the Republican Crusade for Values Voters, covers politics and religion. Her work has appeared in The Washington Post, The Guardian, The Atlantic, The American ProspectThe NationSalon, and other publications. Follow her on TwitterRSS feed Email