For Chinese visiting the US, gun laws are more of a privilege than a problem. And gun tourism is breathing new life into cities who offer shooting experiences above the industry standard.
Businesses like Battlefield Vegas, Stripgun Club, and Machine Gun America are frontrunners in the gun tourism market in Las Vegas.
Machine Gun America opened the country’s first machine gun theme park in Florida a few years ago.
The company’s website advertises helicopter rides where passengers can shoot a belt-fed machine gun while flying through the air.
It was reported that gun tourism generated roughly $20 million in one year for Sin City.
Gun ranges typically provide safe and educational shooting experiences, but accidents happen.
Last month, while an employee at a shooting range in Texas was cleaning a rifle, it accidentally discharged. The bullet went through a wall and hit a man in his head while he was in the shooting range’s parking lot just as he had gotten out of his car.
A man from Singapore, a country with some of the harshest gun laws in the world was accidentally killed at a gun range in California last year.
A professional hunting guide based in China has taken Chinese on hunting trips to Africa and Alaska, to name a few destinations.
He said after spending an entire day hunting, Chinese still want to go out at night and ride around in a jeep with a spotlight and shoot rabbits.
Wild boars devouring food crops in Texas have been a threat to the state’s agriculture and food industry for over decade.
In addressing pig depredation needs, in 2011, Texas passed what is referred to as the “Pork Chopper Bill,” making it legal to shoot the animals from the sky.
Texas entrepreneurs came up win-win idea in an effort to address the crisis while making some money along the way, and HeliBacon was born.
To you give you a better idea of just how overrun parts of Texas are with wild boars, it was reported that HeliBacon had culled 10,000 hogs in an 18-month period, hardly putting a dent in the wild boar population.
In the gun tourism industr,y it’s been referred to as “sky culling.” And it’s a hit with Chinese gun enthusiasts.
For $4,000 a person can shoot wild boar for two hours while riding in a helicopter.
And as reckless and unsafe as it may sound, it isn’t. Today, roughly 150 companies in Texas offer the experience, and I couldn’t find any reports of major accidents or fatalities stemming from aerial depredation activities. But I did hear concerns regarding a few Chinese who had problems following basic safety rules.
Shooting over targets just to see what you might hit is a bad idea. Also, trying to kill animals that you’re not supposed to is against the law.
Furthermore, using the language barrier as an excuse for negligent behavior doesn’t go over well at any ranch or gun range. If a gun instructor says you need to be fluent in English before you can hunt or shoot on their premises, and you don’t speak English, then be honest about it.
Next year, Desoto, Florida will have a five-star gun resort dedicated to Chinese gun enthusiasts. It is expected to draw some 5,000 visitors from China during its first year of operations.
There’s no doubt safety will be the highest of priorities, let’s just hope that the rules are taken seriously.
(The author is a senior staff writer with People's Daily app.)