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There’s Gambling, Floor Shows ... and ‘Full Auto’ in Las Vegas
By Adam Nagourney
New York Times
For Vegas die-hards bored with the $750 tasting menu at Guy Savoy, the $250 Elton John tickets at Caesars or the $200,000 baccarat bet at the Bellagio, this city is serving up a new way to find high-priced thrills.
Machine Guns Vegas — an upscale indoor shooting range complete with skimpily dressed gun-toting hostesses — opened last week a half-mile from the Strip with an armory of weapons and a promise to fulfill the desires of anyone wanting to fire off an Uzi or a vintage Thompson submachine gun. With its provocative mix of violent fantasy (think blowing holes through an Osama bin Laden target with an AK-47) and sexual allure, it is the latest example of how the extravagances and excesses that have defined Las Vegas are moving beyond the gambling table.
“O.K., the Uzi is down right now — sorry!” Melissa Krause, a hostess dressed in a skin-tight black outfit and black boots, with a fake pistol attached to her hip, told a father and son who had driven three hours from Victorville, Calif. “Is there something else you wanted to choose?”
No matter. Before long, the son, Chris Neveu, 20, was standing between two range masters, a man and a woman, feet planted to the ground, eyes protected by goggles and ears by headphones. Hot shells clattered around his feet as his father, Paul, took pictures.
“They have a lot of weapons you wouldn’t be able to find back where I’m from,” Chris said as he repaired to the V.I.P. lounge, where the walls are adorned with machine guns. “Such as the — well, you can see them all around the room: the M-4, the M-16, the M-249 — a lot of exotic weapons.”
In the main lounge, Barry Burmaster, 54, of Williamsburg, Md., was giddy after he and three friends, in town for a convention, compared a stack of bullet-riddled targets.
“Twenty years ago, I’d spend $400 at the strip clubs,” he said. “Now, I just come here to shoot.”
This latest addition to Las Vegas entertainment is in a low-slung building, set among dusty fields and next to an Adult Superstore. Marked off by a few small signs, and with the main entrance at back, it recalls an after-hours club in Lower Manhattan. It has views of two towering buildings whose outsize names — Wynn and Trump — suggest a Las Vegas extravagance that by comparison seems almost quaintly outdated.
Las Vegas in general, and the Strip in particular, is no stranger to violence: Last year, there was a series of stabbings on the street, most of them involving people moving from casino to casino. But the owners of Machine Guns Vegas said that they would carefully screen customers and that their clientele would be made up of people who enjoy the sport of shooting.
This is certainly not the first shooting range here. Interest in guns is high in Nevada, particularly among tourists from countries that ban weapons. “From England, from Japan,” said Jasmine King, a former go-go dancer who now works as a hostess at Machine Guns Vegas. The Gun Store, another local destination for weapons enthusiasts, was teeming with customers the other day.
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