- Associated Press - Tuesday, November 1, 2011

MASON, Texas — On a YouTube clip that has gone viral, brash Texas handgun instructor Crockett Keller defiantly tells supporters of President Obama, Muslims and non-Christian Arabs he won’t teach them how to handle a firearm.

State officials see the ad as possible discrimination, and may revoke Mr. Keller’s instructor license.

Tens of thousands of YouTube viewers have watched the $175 ad for Mr. Keller’s business in the small community of Mason, which has won him a handful of admirers but that embarrassed locals say misrepresents their community. Muslim groups dismissed the 65-year-old as a bigot.

Among the couple of thousand residents in the Central Texas town, Mr. Keller has other reputations.

“He’s a character and likes attention,” said Diane Eames, a jeweler with a downtown shop in Mason’s quaint town square.

Mr. Keller has received plenty of attention since his radio spot on a rural country music station in Mason County, about 100 miles east of Austin, went viral on the Internet. Mr. Keller said he whipped up the script on his iPad in 10 minutes. The ad stopped airing last week.

“If you are a socialist liberal and/or voted for the current campaigner-in-chief, please do not take this class,” Mr. Keller says in the ad’s closing seconds. “You’ve already proven that you cannot make a knowledgeable and prudent decision as required under the law. Also, if you are a non-Christian Arab or Muslim, I will not teach you this class. Once again, with no shame, I am Crockett Keller.”

The Texas Department of Public Safety is now investigating whether to revoke or suspend Mr. Keller’s license to teach concealed-handgun courses.

“Conduct by an instructor that denied service to individuals on the basis of race, ethnicity or religion would place that instructor’s certification by the Department at risk of suspension or revocation,” the department said in a statement.

Inside a remote highway cabin on the edge of the Llano River, where a draped, full-size cannon is parked across from his desk, Mr. Keller said he was inspired to make the ad after being “flabbergasted” by a couple neighbors who left the state to campaign for Mr. Obama. As for Muslims, Mr. Keller described that as an afterthought, likely resulted from something in the news.

“I got to thinking, ‘Hmm, I’m arming the enemy,’ ” Mr. Keller said.

Of course, even Keller knows that Muslims were unlikely to show up at his door asking to take his $100 course. He said he wasn’t aware of any Muslims in Mason County, nor could a handful of locals name one.

Local resident Scott Haupert, co-owner of the Sandstone Cellars Winery, said he doubted Mr. Keller’s comments were totally serious.

“I voted for Obama and I’ll vote for Obama again,” said Mr. Haupert, an avowed Democrat. “If I signed up to take his gun-control class, he would not reject me.”

But Mr. Keller has also won some fans. As he spoke with a reporter in his cabin, rancher Clyde McCarley knocked on his door and asked about signing up for a class.

“It’s mighty dadgum interesting to me that some people can say anything they want, and you make a statement and they bring down the house on you,” Mr. McCarley said.

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