A machine gun theme park is now open in Florida to firearm lovers as young as thirteen years of age. If waterslides and carnival rides aren’t your thing, then perhaps you would enjoy squeezing a few founds off from a Glock 17 at target pictures of zombies or Osama Bin Laden. Welcome to Machine Gun America in Orlando – the city known for its theme parks – and if you can’t find it, the commando inspired attraction with military-grade firearms is just six miles from Walt Disney World. Forget Mickey, get me an M4.
Writes Fox News on Feb. 5: “At Machine Gun America, kids as young as 13 can shoot military-grade firearms at custom targets or in simulated experiences, no prior experience required… Visitors get to choose from a range of weapons, including MP5s, M4s, and Glock 17s, and can pick the experience they want. There’s a zombie, Special Operations and even a ‘007’ simulation.”
The park, which just opened in December, does not function like a typical gun range; they do not allow any outside guns to be brought in. Children under 18 must be accompanied by an adult, and kids under 13 can visit the park, but are not allowed near any of the shooting ranges. Instead, they have a video gaming room for them to play in, complete with realistic arcade killing games. Entry ticket prices start at $100.
Each guest is paired with a National Rifle Association-certified range safety officer, who oversees the firing of the weapons. Many of the safety officers are military veterans.
“A traditional bulls-eye is our most popular target followed by Osama bin Laden,” said park co-owner Dan Shalloway. “We also have a bulls eye on a T-shirt that guests can shoot at and then take their shirt home to wear, which is a really fun option.”
Shalloway said that 40 percent of the visitors are women, and the park has a special shooting package for them. “The Diva Package is great for women who have little experience holding a gun,” Shalloway said. “It includes guns with very little recoil like Heckler and Koch MP5. My wife really loves it.”
Wes Doss, the facility’s director of safety and training, said: “The experience here is right up there with what you would find on a thrill junkie’s bucket list. We’ve had a large number of UK families coming in to shoot as well as tourists from Brazil and Finland.”
Doss is banking on what he calls a “natural” inquisitiveness with guns to buoy his business. “Machine Gun America has a tremendous amount of potential. I believe it’s popularity is going to come from that natural curiosity that everyone has towards firearms,” he said.
The park’s press release states they “offer guests an exciting way to experience firearms in a safe, secure, state-of-the-art environment designed to give anyone, regardless of their experience level, the thrill of a lifetime.”
According to park regulations, staff has the right to turn away any gun lover who shows up intoxicated, medicated or physically unable to shoot a gun with some level of competence. “We’ve been open only six weeks and have been very fortunate that we have yet to turn anybody away,” Shalloway said.
The Daily Mail, which carried pictures of the park and its ranges, spoke with visitor John Webster, 21, from Tampa. “My heart was pumping,” Webster said. “I never fired a gun like that in my life. To feel so much power was just exhilarating – pulling the trigger and having your whole body shake, there’s nothing like it.”
As you can imagine, anti-gun advocates are up in arms (excuse the pun) over the opening of this weapons theme park. Allowing teens access to a full arsenal of high caliber, automatic weapons is a tragedy waiting to happen, they say.
In September, a nine-year-old girl in Arizona shot and killed a gun range instructor with an uzi that she said was “too powerful” for her. The girl lost control of the Uzi sub-machine gun, shooting and killing instructor Charles Vacca at the Last Stop range in White Hills, about 60 miles south of Las Vegas. While this park does not allow pre-teens, is putting a powerful automatic in the hands of a 13- or 14-year-old girl or boy a wise decision?
Where do you fall on the opening of this machine gun theme park? Good machine gun family fun, or something else?