Remember that Ebola scare we had recently? You know, the one where you couldn’t turn on the news for weeks on end without hearing about how we should all be scared to interact with any other human being for fear of contracting it? In case you missed it, the total number of deaths from Ebola was two. That’s right, two. No one should have to suffer through a disease like that and I am sure we are all still on edge from that scare.
Meanwhile, from the time the first Ebola case where someone died (September 30, 2014) until the second person was diagnosed and passed away (November 15, 2014) over 3,000 people died from gunfire in the United States. Now you can say those two facts aren’t exactly “apples to apples,” but we’ve become fairly numb to gun violence in the U.S. since we see it on the news literally every single day. Ebola, as it were (and still is), a new flavor of death and thus gave us reason to panic.
There are tons of ways we can talk about how gun violence has become a part of society from movies to video games, but today we will specifically talk about attractions. For better or worse, guns have been a part of the attractions world since the beginning from carnival midway games…
…. to Fess Parker holding a rifle on horseback on the opening day Disneyland coverage….
… to pretty much anytime we hear of “interactive ride,” it’s some flavor of shooting game where riders blast anything from ghosts to aliens.
Also, there have been standalone attractions for years that allow you to shoot live ammo including paintballs. Even Las Vegas has The Las Vegas Machine Gun Experience where participants can fire off a real machine gun amongst other weapons such as a handgun. According to their website, “Participants under 18 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian, who remains responsible for the minor’s actions and safety, while at our facility. Minors may operate all long arms, including machine guns. Range safety officers exercise discretion to determine what firearms a minor is permitted to operate. If permitted by a monitoring range safety officer, a supervising parent or guardian can hand a handgun to a child. Under such conditions, the minor CAN operate a handgun.”
Now a similar attraction is opening near Old Town in Kissimmee, Florida called Machine Gun America, where participants can fire anything from a Glock 17 (handgun) to an AK-47. According to their website, “Parental consent is required and a parent must be present for guests aged 13- 17 to participate in the live action area.” That’s right; a 13-year-old can fire a real weapon with parental consent in a controlled environment.
From everything I can tell, Machine Gun America is on the up and up, everyone on staff is an expert with loads of experience. The question then becomes: should there be an attraction that allows minors to fire real weapons? Growing up in Georgia, hunting is just part of the culture. I can’t say I personally partook, but many of my friends and even a few family members would slap on some camouflage and hop in a tree stand in hopes of killing a deer.
While accidents happen on firing ranges, my bigger concern is giving kids a taste of guns and what it feels like to fire one. A few months or even years later, they get their hands on one without the aid of a trained professional by their side, and well, accidents happen. Sometimes that seed is planted in kids at a young age and when they become adults, they snap. I don’t need to tell anyone reading this article that gun violence is real and isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.
However, now it’s coming into Orlando, which is known as the most family friendly tourist destination on the planet. One can argue that these minors will figure out a way to get a weapon in their hands anyway if they want to, so why not let them do it in a controlled environment? You can also just as easily make the argument that this will be the introduction of firearms to many youngsters who may not have had the opportunity otherwise.
As we continue chasing our tail on gun control laws, one has to wonder if Machine Gun America would help the problem or making it worse? Make sure to follow Theme Park University on Twitter and like our Facebook Page.