UNITED STATES

Las Vegas, NV

Sin City Attraction Lets Visitors Exercise Second Amendment Rights

Instructor with weapon and target at Machine Guns Vegas

Samantha, a Range Safety Officer at Machine Guns Vegas, demonstrates the operation of an MP5 9mm submachine gun.
TED DAVIS/Meridian Writers’ Group

IN THE United States, the number of guns reportedly exceeded the population of 313 million in 2012. For many non-Americans, the appeal of this often fatal attraction (about 13,000 Americans were killed by guns in 2015) is likely to stay a mystery, since legally obtaining arms in most Western countries is difficult—and nearly impossible if the weapon in question is an assault rifle. But that’s not a problem in America. And it is certainly no problem at Machine Guns Vegas.

From the outside, Machine Guns Vegas is non-descript: a low, grey concrete building in a light industry/warehouse zone, just minutes from the Las Vegas Strip. Inside is a shooting range with eight lanes and lockers full of armaments, from handguns to sniper rifles. Different mixes are sold as packages; I opt for the four-weapon Gamers’ Shooting Range Experience.

There are legal and instructional procedures to be completed, but nothing onerous. Everything is designed to make this as much fun as any other activity in Las Vegas. You are led to the shooting range and invited to choose a target from a selection of villains, including a sneering Osama Bin Laden. The large paper sheet is clipped into a line that slides out to a predetermined distance—close for beginners like me.

Directing me through my first experience in this world is an instructor who does not meet expectations—unless those expectations include James Bond movies. Samantha, the range safety officer, is dressed in form-fitting black, head-to-toe, and wearing stylish protective eyeglasses. She also wears thin, finger-tight gloves, and quickly goes to work, expertly snapping various bolts and levers and loading each gun with 10-round clips.

Then she hands the first weapon over. The Glock 17 pistol is amazingly light and compact. I fire my rounds and score bulls-eyes on all the shots, eliciting surprise and some giddy glee. Hey, this is kind of fun.

Things get tougher as the weapons advance through a hierarchy of more powerful weapons, and following the Glock are three semi-automatic assault rifles. All give a progressively more abrupt kick as the power and calibre increase. We are instructed to squeeze off bursts of two or three rounds, and brace ourselves with a wide-leg stance and as much stability as possible where the gun butt meets the shoulder.

As expected, the AK-47 exerts the most forceful kick, delivered with a loud, angry chatter of rounds. It’s harder to keep the AK-47 on target as it coughs out tongues of flame—sensations that can’t be mimicked in any video game.

After 45 minutes of instruction and shooting, all the weapons have generated a fine, acrid film of smoke, and the smell stays on the hands and clothes well after washing up and leaving.

Were some gun mysteries solved by this experience? Yes, there’s a destructive delight in blasting away with automatic weapons, no doubt about it. But at Machine Guns Vegas it’s conducted in a controlled, instructional environment, with no harm to any lives or limbs.

 

ACCESS

For more information on Machine Guns Vegas visit its website at www.machinegunsvegas.com.

For information on Las Vegas go to the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority website at www.lasvegas.com.