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Gun tourism grows in popularity in recent years

Published: Thursday, Aug. 28, 2014 11:46 p.m. CDT
Caption
(John Locher)
A man closes off an entrance to the Last Stop outdoor shooting range Wednesday in White Hills, Ariz. Gun range instructor Charles Vacca was accidentally killed Monday at the range by a 9-year-old with an Uzi submachine gun. (AP Photo/John Locher)

LAS VEGAS – The death of an Arizona firearms instructor by a 9-year-old girl who was firing a fully automatic Uzi displayed a tragic side of what has become a hot industry in the U.S.: gun tourism.

With gun laws keeping high-powered weapons out of reach for most people – especially those outside the U.S. – indoor shooting ranges with high-powered weapons have become a popular attraction.

Tourists from Japan flock to ranges in Waikiki, Hawaii, and the dozen or so that have cropped up in Las Vegas offer bullet-riddled bachelor parties and literal shotgun weddings, where newly married couples can fire submachine gun rounds and pose with Uzis and ammo belts.

“People just want to experience things they can’t experience elsewhere,” said Genghis Cohen, owner of Machine Guns Vegas. “There’s not an action movie in the past 30 years without a machine gun.”

The accidental shooting death of the firing-range instructor in Arizona set off a powerful debate over youngsters and guns, with many people wondering what sort of parents would let a child handle a submachine gun.

Instructor Charles Vacca, 39, was standing next to the girl Monday at the Last Stop range in White Hills, Arizona, about 60 miles south of Las Vegas, when she squeezed the trigger. The recoil wrenched the Uzi upward, and Vacca was shot in the head.

Prosecutors say they will not file charges in the case. The identities of the girl and her family have not been released.

The Arizona Division of Occupational Safety and Health, the state’s workplace safety agency, is investigating the shooting-range death, said agency spokeswoman Rachel Brockway, who declined to provide specifics on the examination.

The coroner in Las Vegas said Vacca suffered from a single gunshot to the head.

Clark County Coroner Mike Murphy told The Associated Press it will take several weeks for blood-toxicology test results to be complete, and authorities were still investigating the shooting.

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