Uzi-toters rejoice at first gun-resort
town planned for Nevada.
By Greg Barrett, Gannett News Service
Students in Front
Sight's Uzi class learn how to stop an attacker -
three shots to the chest and one to the head. (By Heather
Martin Morrissey, GNS)
Nev. - Australian journalist Gerard Ryle looks nauseated as he retreats
from the firing line cradling a 9 mm Uzi. In the background, there's
a paper silhouette of a person obliterated by a single pull of a
trigger and 20 successive blasts.
"I've never fired a
gun in my life," Ryle mutters. "This is awful."
Outsiders might relate. But most folks locking and
loading here on a remote desert shooting range are gun
enthusiasts eager to drive 48 miles west from Las Vegas for a
sure shot at trigger happiness in what's being billed as the
nation's first gun-resort town.
"Every time they pass another gun-control
law it drives more people to us," founder Ignatius
Piazza says to a group of police officers, bellhops,
lawyers, stockbrokers, schoolteachers and others lured
here by the promise of firing an Uzi.
"Anti-gun people expect to see Bubba, his redneck buddies
and a bunch of neo-Nazis, but they're not going to find
that here," Piazza
says." They can't say we're training militia or training
terrorists when we have law enforcement officers in
every class here."
Named for the part of the gun barrel used for aiming, Front Sight right now is a concept visible mostly in Piazza's
imagination and eight architectural renderings that are framed,
matted and showcased on easels in a huge tent pitched alongside
promises a resort like no other, a gun-toting, gated
community where home security systems will be strapped
to hips (although you don't have to shoot a gun to live
here) and crime rates will be zilch.
"Wouldn't it be nice to live in the safest town in America?" he
asks the assembled shooters. "We won't have any crime at Front Sight, not with everyone trained in firearms and most everyone
'We won't have any crime at Front
Sight, not with everyone trained
developer says (By Heather MartinMorrissey,
When it's finished, the community is
projected to include12 shooting ranges, an assault tower, 400
yards of training tunnels, 177 home lots, a convenience store
and a private K-12 school. It will spill across 550acres from
Clark County into Nye County, a swatch of Nevada better known
for its mobile-home bordellos
Initial approval has been
given, and $3 million of infrastructure is in the ground.
Plans call for a complete community by fall 2002.
refers to Front Sight as
a Disneyland or a Pebble Beach for the nation's 80 million gun owners.
Last year he moved most of his Front
Sight Firearms Training Institute across the border from its
base in Bakersfield,Calif., where automatic weapons such as the
Uzi are outlawed for private citizens.
"The man is a
visionary," says Tanya Metaksa, a senior adviser and former
chief lobbyist for the National Rifle Association. She's here
for the free, one-day Uzi class. "I think the idea is great. I
hope he succeeds."
The novelty of Front Sight
has captured the news media's fascination. Some reports make it
sound as if honey already flows on this land dubbed Gun City, USA,
by some foreign press.
No umbrella drinks here:
Buyers at Front
Sight get an Uzi
and the chance to play with guns illegal in most states (By
Heather Martin Morrissey, GNS)
That explains Ryle's presence here and his
reluctant grip on an Uzi. Like all journalists wishing
to interview Piazza,
Ryle, a reporter with The Sydney MorningHerald,
must learn the finer points of shooting an assault rifle.
40, is a master marksman and marketer tan from shooting
guns in the desert. He is also a former chiropractor
who frequently commutes here from his$700,000 beach
home near Santa Cruz, Calif., then makes a two-hour
sales appeal that's about as subtle as the Sunday collection
To potential buyers, he even
invokes Spike Lee: "How many of you believe in what we are
doing? Well, then, I am going to ask you to do the right
Chris Fisher believes he did. He bought a lot
and plans to move his family here someday. The executive
consultant and father of three from Sacramento likes to
target-shoot with his 10-year-old son.
It's a sport, he says, no different than a father-son
golf tandem: "I look at this as an opportunity to help
perpetuate a very positive message about gun safety
and gun ownership."
Pacing in front of a small group of predominantly white, middle-age
professional men, Piazza
dons a headset mike and evangelizes about the glory and potential
of Front Sight, its $275,000
one-acre lots and its impact on society.
It soon becomes apparent that his vision is as
much about politics as profits.
"If everyone was
trained in guns there would be no debate about gun control in
this country," he says. "It would be a moot point. Everyone
would know how to handle a gun safely. Everyone would know how
to be responsible with a gun. Everyone would know how to
protect themselves should they be accosted. . . . Training is
the one thing the government will never be able to legislate
away from you."
Despite construction snags and dueling lawsuits between
and his initial contractor, three dozen home lots have
sold, he says.
They come with Front Sight's
Platinum membership, which includes unlimited use of shooting ranges,
free gun cleaning, a leather holster, a heavy silver card to carry
in a coat pocket ("This way when you sweep your coat back to grab
the pistol from your hip, the weighted garment swings further back"),
an Uzi (if payment is made in full).
One person who's not buying it - the Front
Sight membership at least - is Uzi class member Bruce Baker.
An elementary-school teacher from Los Angeles County, Baker, 38,
likes to hunt wild boar, target-shoot with his wife and ride mountain
bikes with his five sons.
going to live in a town built around a single activity, guns,
golf or otherwise.
"For balance," he says, "I don't
think you should over invest in one thing like this. . . . But
for law enforcement officers, hey, this place could be