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article image'Machine Gun America' opens in Florida — What could go wrong?

By Karen Graham     Dec 19, 2014 in Entertainment
Orlando - Cashing in on America's long-standing love affair with weapons, a new attraction opens this weekend in Orlando, Florida. Called Machine Gun America, its website bills the theme park as Orlando's "first automatic adrenaline attraction."
The controversial 13,000 square foot theme park sits right across the street from Kissimmee's Old Town park, a nostalgic family-oriented tourist attraction. The major difference between the new attraction and the well-known old one is the type of entertainment available.
There are no children's rides or roller coasters. Instead, children as young as 13 years old will be able to fire real, weapons-grade assault rifles, using live rounds of ammunition, with their parents' permission, of course. General Manager Bruce Nierenberg says, "Everybody has something they always wanted to try, this would be on people's bucket list to try it and have a new experience."
The new theme park has raised the ire of gun opponants.
The new theme park has raised the ire of gun opponants.
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Just so everyone understands, the attraction is not a shooting range, and guests are not allowed to bring their own weapons. But they do have a choice of picking, among others, an Uzi, an AK47, M5 or a Tommy gun. Nierenberg says most of the weapons are not even eligible to be owned by individuals.
"No guest is ever left by themselves. No one ever shoots by themselves, and no guest is ever in control of the weapon without a range safety officer next to them and participating with them," Nierenberg told the Daily News.
The themed attraction has 10 firing lanes with military-grade simulators. Guests can choose to be zombie-hunters, crime-fighters or even an international spy. But the real attraction in all this is getting to handle a weapon that most people only dream about firing. Youngsters between the ages of 13 and 17 years old must be accompanied by an adult.
Selection of the weapons available for firing.
Selection of the weapons available for firing.
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This is not to say there are no detractors because there have been many. Ladd Everitt, the director of communications for the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, said that "It's simply further evidence of an out-of-control gun culture that prioritizes the fetishization of weapons over human life itself. You have to wonder about the mentality of parents who would let their child fire a military-style rifle at such an establishment after what happened at Bullets and Burgers."
Everitt was referring to the accidental shooting death of an Arizona gun range instructor who was showing a nine-year-old girl how to fire an automatic Uzi at the Arizona Last Stop gun range on August 26 this year. The child was unable to control the weapon, resulting in the death of the instructor.
Another opponent of the theme park, Lucia Kay McBath, a member of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense, says, "You've got Disney World and Epcot. All are places for family fun where they should feel protected."
Nierenberg says he is not making any apologies to his critics. Referring to the tragic accident in Arizona, he said,"Good safety procedures were not followed," pointing out the weapon was too big for the child to handle. "There's some common sense involved," he said.
But looking at the broader picture in dealing with weapons, Nierenberg reminds the public and his detractors that weapons have been part and parcel of civilization since the beginning, and weapons are needed to defend our freedoms. He argues that "It's directly related to the fact that we've been able to acquire our freedom and defend it."
10News, a Tampa Bay-Sarasota news site has an online survey on the question: Should children as young as 13 be allowed to fire automatic weapons? Those voting "YES" totalled 74.77 percent, and those opposed came to 25.23 percent.
The Mirror in the U.K. ran a similar poll, and their results were totally different from the American poll. Participants of the poll saying it was wrong on so many levels - 61 percent. Those saying it was alright amounted to only 23 percent.
What do you think?
More about Orlando florida, real machine guns, live rounds, safety officer, 13 and older
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