The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

Breaking News

World, nation, state

February 15, 2013

Vegas says take a shot at love

LAS VEGAS —  One Las Vegas shooting range was selling "take a shot at love" packages that include 50 submachine gun rounds. Another offered wedding packages in which the bride and groom can pose with Uzis and ammunition belts. And a third invited lovebirds to renew their vows and shoot a paper cutout zombie in the face.

Never known for its understatement or good taste, Sin City is bucking the national trend of avoiding flippant gun promotions after the Newtown, Conn., elementary school shooting. Instead, it is embracing tourists' newfound interest in big guns the only way it knows how: by going all in.

The newest crop of outlandish Valentine's Day offers was no exception.

Capitalizing on the state's relaxed gun laws, shooting ranges offer an armory of military-grade weapons that aren't accessible in other states. And because this is Las Vegas, the ranges also allow customers to destroy photographs of exes, make souvenir T-shirts full of holes and shoot fully-automatic weapons in barely-there bachelor party man-kinis.

Some gun control advocates say the promotions trivialize the dangers of high-powered weapons.

"These gun stores and shooting ranges offer bad puns in poor taste in their efforts to put a happy face on firearms, yet each day more than 86 Americans die from gun violence," said Newtown native Josh Sugarmann, who is executive director of the Washington D.C.-based Violence Policy Center.

"While Las Vegas gun promoters present assault rifles with high-capacity ammunition magazines as harmless Valentine's Day props, the vast majority of Americans understand their true role: military-bred weapons that threaten police and public safety."

At least half a dozen ranges opened in Las Vegas last year, triggering a marketing arms race.

Before visitors even pick up their bags at McCarran International Airport, they are confronted by ads for the Gun Store, Las Vegas' most venerable shooting range. One ad features a blonde posing with an MP5 submachine gun under the words, "Try one."

Machine Gun Las Vegas, which opened last winter, hires former go-go dancers as hostesses and sells its "femme fatale" package with the slogan, "There's nothing like the scent of Cordite in a woman's hair." (Cordite is an alternative to gunpowder).

"We give what people are asking for, whether it's the 'mob experience' and they want to test a Tommy gun, or a bachelor package, and they want a limo to take them to the club afterward," said Lianne Heck, marketing director at Range 702, which opened in October.

This year, shooting ranges extended their tongue-in-cheek promotions to Valentine's Day, always a moneymaker in this matrimony-and-sex-obsessed town.

The Guns and Ammo Garage offered free weddings performed by Jimmy "Mac" McNamara, the "Pistol Packing Preacher," because nothing makes a memory quite like the sound of gunfire.

"To me it's not the shooting, it's the amendments and our rights as Americans and as citizens of this country," McNamara said after marrying a couple beside an arch made of rifles.

The Gun Store has extended the gimmick beyond Valentine's Day and built a permanent "shotgun weddings" chapel.

Bob MacDuff said his "I do's" there last July, then posed with AK-47s for wedding pictures and went shooting with his 25 guests.

"For people who are gun people, you can't find a better option," said MacDuff, of Alberta, Canada.

In the wake of the Dec. 14 shootings, many companies curtailed their activities to avoid giving offense.

Groupon, the online coupon giant, halted gun-related promotions, video game company Electronic Arts scrubbed its website of links to weapons retailers and the 3-D printing company MakerBot began removing blueprints for guns from its database.

Fox pulled episodes of "Family Guy" and "American Dad" that made jokes about the punishment of children.

British tabloids chided Las Vegas gun ranges for failing to follow suit.

"What hope for the US when couples can now get married with weapons?" read the headline of a Jan. 7 article in the Sun reporting that that no couples had canceled their shotgun weddings after the national tragedy.

The finger wagging rankled Emily Miller, wedding officiant and head of marketing for the Gun Store, who said the high-powered weapons allow tourists to live out a wild-west fantasy.

"People always want to put a spin on it like it's a hostile or angry thing," she said. "Really, customers just want to have fun. It's like a bucket list item."

At least one gun control advocate agrees with her.

In what might be called a Valentine to the shooting range industry, a spokesman for the Washington D.C.-based Coalition to Stop Gun Violence said Vegas' public embrace of shooting might cause people to associate it with other Sin City favorites like gambling, benders and ill-conceived hook-ups.

"If anything, this will maybe enforce the image of guns as something that are bad for you," he said.

 

1
Text Only
World, nation, state
  • Planes with Ukraine bodies arrive in Netherlands

    Two more military aircraft carrying remains of victims from the Malaysian plane disaster arrived in the Netherlands on Thursday, while Australian and Dutch diplomats joined to promote a plan for a U.N. team to secure the crash site which has been controlled by pro-Russian rebels.

    July 24, 2014

  • UN school in Gaza caught in cross-fire; 15 killed

    A U.N. school in Gaza crowded with hundreds of Palestinians seeking refuge from fierce fighting came under fire Thursday, killing at least 15 civilians and leaving a sad tableau of blood-spattered pillows, blankets and children’s clothing scattered in the courtyard.

    July 24, 2014

  • Air Algerie jet with 116 on board crashes in Mali

    An Air Algerie jetliner carrying 116 people crashed Thursday in a rainstorm over restive Mali, and its wreckage was found near the border of neighboring Burkina Faso — the third major international aviation disaster in a week.

    July 24, 2014

  • Troubled childhoods may prompt men to volunteer for military service

    In the era of the all-volunteer U.S. military, men who served are more than twice as likely as those who never did to have been sexually abused as children and to have grown up around domestic violence and substance abuse, a new study has found.

    July 24, 2014

  • As poverty continues to rise, fewer Ohioans are receiving state aid

    The number of Ohioans receiving public assistance continues to drop even while poverty increases, raising questions about how the state helps the poor.

    July 24, 2014

  • ’Saltwater’ from fracking spill much different from ocean water

    In early July, a million gallons of salty drilling waste spilled from a pipeline onto a steep hillside in western North Dakota’s Fort Berthold Reservation. The waste — a byproduct of oil and gas production — has now reached a tributary of Lake Sakakawea, which provides drinking water to the reservation.

    July 24, 2014

  • 40 bodies from jet solemnly returned to Dutch soil

    Victims of the Malaysian jetliner shot down over Ukraine returned at last Wednesday to Dutch soil in 40 wooden coffins, solemnly and gently carried to 40 identical hearses, flags at half-staff flapping in the wind.

    July 23, 2014

  • U.S. pushes for truce as Gaza battle rages

    The United States announced signs of progress in cease-fire talks Wednesday, but prospects for a quick end to the fighting were dim as Palestinian families fled fierce battles in southern Gaza and the death toll rose to more than 700 Palestinians and 34 Israelis.

    July 23, 2014

  • GROUNDED U.S., other countries ban flights to and from Israel

    A Hamas rocket exploded Tuesday near Israel’s main airport, prompting a ban on all flights from the U.S. and many from Europe and Canada as aviation authorities responded to the shock of seeing a civilian jetliner shot down over Ukraine.

    July 23, 2014

  • REPORT: Retaliation by supervisors common at VA

    A pharmacy supervisor at the VA was placed on leave after complaining about errors and delays in delivering medications to patients at a hospital in Palo Alto, California. In Pennsylvania, a doctor was removed from clinical work after complaining that on-call doctors were refusing to go to a VA hospital in Wilkes-Barre.

    July 22, 2014

House Ads
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
AP Video