Nevada gun culture under scrutiny following Las Vegas massacre

  • Nevada has some of the most lenient gun laws in the US
  • Gun establishments in the state allow tourists to fire military grade weapons

In the wake of Sunday’s mass shooting in Las Vegas, which left 58 people dead and over 500 injured, Nevada state’s gun culture has come under greater scrutiny as people across the US debate what can be done to prevent such mass killings.

The right for US citizens to bear arms is enshrined in the Constitution, but there have been various attempts to regulate gun sales. The National Firearms Act of 1934 made it harder to obtain weapons and introduced a national register and background checks.

Photos have emerged of Stephen Paddock's corpse
Photos have emerged of Stephen Paddock’s weapon collection

The Firearms Owners Protection Act of 1986 made it illegal for civilians to own machine guns, and in 1994 assault weapons were banned, though this ban expired in 1994.

Nevada currently has some of the country’s most lenient gun laws, which permit people to carry guns without registering. Background checks are required when making purchases from gun shops in the state, but private gun sales are permitted and it is relatively easy for anyone to gather a significant stockpile of weapons and ammunition.

Gun culture

The state also has a deeply-rooted gun culture. There are many establishments in the vicinity of Sin City that allow tourists to fire automatic and military-grade weapons, and even to drive tanks. One company: Machine Gun Helicopters offer people the chance to fly over the Grand Canyon and shoot.50-caliber and fully automatic machine guns.

Some gun advocates argue that these facilities, along with the state’s ubiquitous gun ranges, offer a venue for gun owners and enthusiasts to learn about safe and responsible gun use. Other states including Kentucky, Arizona and Georgia also offer similar tourist experiences, although Nevada differs in that it also contains one of the world’s major tourist destinations.

US Representative for Georgia, John Lewis, along with former Congresswoman Gabby Giffords, who was herself the victim of a gun attack, are among many politicians and high profile figures who have called for tighter regulation, but they face a tough battle to persuade Americans in states like Nevada to change their gun culture.

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