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Gunshots in Las Vegas: Having A Blast In Sin City

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Am I saying guns are fun? Step outside the gaudy Las Vegas Strip for some out of the box and controversial fun in Boulder City, Nevada.

In This Las Vegas Article You Will Discover:

  • A Different Way to Have Fun in Las Vegas
  • The Power & Politics of Guns in America
  • And more!

Thirty miles outside of Las Vegas, Nevada, surrounded by this level of gunfire, I should be running for cover behind the nearest desert rock. Pop! Pop! Rat-a-tat! Boom!

Bullets ping off metal targets, obliterate paper cutouts and shatter clay pigeons in all directions. And I’m all smiles.

I’m here at Bass Pro Shop’s famous Media Day at the Range, a precursor to SHOT Show 2011 (Shooting Hunting and Outdoor Trade Show) in Las Vegas, Nevada. And the guns, they are a-blazing.

The largest gathering of outdoor media in the world, SHOT Show is a celebration of all things hunting and the outdoors. The show itself is a “working trade show” — and it’s about as exciting as that sounds. But the media day — well, it is… if you can excuse this inexcusable pun… a blast.

(Note: this blog was written previous to the more recent shootings in Connecticut, Colorado and Santa Barbara, and is not meant to be a pro-gun-lobby article; I abhor gun violence and feel the US needs MAJOR overhauling and tightening up on their current gun laws. #NOTONEMORE)

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It’s fun to experience anything that’s not readily available back home…

As a Canadian, guns are just not a huge part of popular culture. They are controversial at worst and totally foreign to many of my urbanite countrymen at best.

In the USA, it’s a bit of a different story. Guns are ingrained in society — written in as the mighty Second Amendment of their constitution and forever championed by the all-to-politically powerful and connected National Rifle Association.

In Canada, guns are primarily owned by hunters and landowners — they are considered more of a tool than a right by most Canucks, but one has the right to own a tool nonetheless. We have not had the history of mass shootings we’ve all seen in the US. Frankly, no one has.

In recent years, the Canadian public has softened to gun ownership from the strong “Anti” sentiment in the 1990s. Most have realized that rural hunters in Northern British Columbia, for example, are not society’s plague and should not be treated like criminals because they choose to get their meat the old fashioned way rather than at Costco. Canada’s gun regulations are far more restrictive than gun-crazy America’s, but still much more liberal than in the UK or Australia.

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Getting ready to load up outside of Las Vegas, Nevada.

But in Canada and the US, guns are also forever linked to tragedies such as the shootings at l’Ecole Polytechnique, Columbine and more recently, the massacre in Tucson, Arizona. As such, the anti-gun lobby is strong in both countries. (NOTE: I can’t keep updating the shootings. They happen too often. #NOTONEMORE.)

But today, in Boulder City, Nevada, at the Boulder City Pistol & Rifle Range, the racket of 100 rifle blasts in unison is too loud to hear any of it.

I am happy to join in this rootin’, tootin celebration of all things U-S-of-A. My first stop? To shoot the Ruger SR-556. This gun is one of the most controversial firearms in existence. Why? Simple: this firearm is built on the Armalite Rifle 15 (AR-15) platform, that looks, to the layman, like an AK-47 or other military weapon — therefore it strikes fear in the hearts of the gun-weary right out of the gate — yet it is as easy to acquire as a hunting rifle. “This is not for hunting, this is for killing,” is a common concern about the AR-15 style gun. You see, it’s part of the venerable “black gun” collection, a gun-style that many want banned in Canada. Already, it’s darn hard to acquire — but the irony is that the SR-556 uses a calibre much less powerful than most common deer hunting rifles (.223, whereas most hunters use .300 and larger), and in Canada, has the same magazine capacity of any hunting rifle. In short, it’s no more or less dangerous than Uncle Joe’s Deer Gun — gut to the average citizen, it sure looks like it is… and perception is often everything.

The SR-556 is fun as hell to shoot — and you do get the feeling you’re in a circa-1985 Arnold Schwarzenegger film when you hold it, for better or for worse. Pop-pop-pop-pop-pop! I put five rounds into the paper.

Next stop? I get my hands on a .357 Magnum revolver and send six bullets whizzing by a target and into the dirt backstop. In my hands, this gun is not dangerous — I apparently cannot hit the blindside of a barn.

Then it’s on to a range with a long lineup of conventional hunting rifles. Then a pistol. Then… on to the next one — and the next. And the next. Shooting guns is fun. Real fun. Anyone who says it isn’t — hasn’t.

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The author taking aim with a .357 Magnum.

There are many who would tsk-tsk what I’m doing today. Guns are for killing, they say. Guns should be banned, they argue. And with only a few weeks since six people were violently murdered in Arizona, one of which was a nine-year-old girl, it’s hard to ignore the Anti Sentiment. After all, does one really need a handgun that fires shotgun shells for “personal defence?” I shoot it — called the Taurus Judge — and it hurts my hand. Furthermore, the shooter in Arizona had a 30-round magazine for his handgun. There certainly cannot be a reasonable justification for needing 30 bullets between re-loads, can there? Of course not.

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Safety is first, second, third and fourth. Safety is everything all the time.

There is a very large sentiment among the gun lobby that a citizen’s right to bear arms — firearm ownership — is the ultimate freedom. If this is stripped, they say, the government will open the floodgates to banning everything it wants to: Motorcycles. Extreme sports. Punk rock. Everything — except those items it can make healthy tax money with. (Hence the continuing free-for-all on tobacco, booze and processed food, three things that kill more people annually than all the guns in the world combined.) If it weren’t for guns, many here at Boulder City claim, things could be downright Orwelian. After all, as long as one is still free to buy a hunting rifle, The Man is not likely to put a ban on buying a Harley Davidson, is He? The shooters here at Boulder City pay their income taxes, so they’re going to take advantage of their rights — all of them.

But we all should agree on simple, obvious revisions to the America’s current laws. Get rid of large capacity magazines. Get rid of so-called assault weapons. Mental health and criminal background checks for gun owners. Waiting periods. There’s a new mass shooting every year. Something has to give. Something has to change. Did you know it’s legal in Minnesota to own a silencer? I’ll say it again — something has to change.

By day’s end, under a record January hot-spell of 25 degrees Celsius, I’m tired, my head hurts from the gunshots and my shoulders are sore from recoil — I slump into a half-nap on my Las Vegas Strip Hotel bed as I sort through my photos.

A harmless day full of deadly weapons… pure irony, perhaps, but one thing’s for sure — it beats the hell out of sitting in front slot machine.

And we can all agree that shooting at an outdoor gun range does a lot less harm to one’s health than pigging out at the buffet or downing cheap booze at the casino bars, right?

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About the author: David Webb is a Vancouver, BC-based travel writer, photographer and magazine editor.

4 comments… add one
  • I would absolutely love to experience some of the automatic weapons on offer in the States. Here in Australia, we do have very tough gun laws, with semi-auto rifles and handguns only allowable with a special licence under special circumstances.

  • Zablon Mukuba Jan 25, 2011

    i have never been a fan of guns but i went to a gun range once and had the time of my life

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