Published April 18, 2000
Happiness is a warm gun...
Uzi-toters rejoice at first gun-resort townplanned for Nevada.
By Greg Barrett, Gannett News Service
Students in Front Sight's Uziclass learn how to stop an attacker - three shots to the chest and one tothe head. (By Heather Martin Morrissey, GNS)
FRONT SIGHT, Nev. - Australian journalist Gerard Rylelooks nauseated as he retreats from the firing line cradling a 9 mm Uzi. In thebackground, there's a paper silhouette of a person obliterated by a single pullof a trigger and 20 successive blasts.
I've never fired a gun in my life, Ryle mutters.
Outsiders might relate. But most folks locking and loading here on a remotedesert shooting range are gun enthusiasts eager to drive 48 miles west from LasVegas for a sure shot at trigger happiness in what's being billed as thenation's first gun-resort town.
Every time they pass another gun-control law itdrives more people to us, founder Ignatius Piazza says to a group ofpolice officers, bellhops, lawyers, stockbrokers, schoolteachers and otherslured here by the promise of firing an Uzi.
Anti-gun people expect to see Bubba, his redneck buddies and a bunch ofneo-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 havelaw enforcement officers in every class here.
Named for the part of the gun barrel used for aiming, Front Sight right now isa concept visible mostly in Piazza's imagination and eight architecturalrenderings that are framed, matted and showcased on easels in a huge tentpitched alongside cactus.
Piazza promises a resort like no other, a gun-toting, gated community wherehome security systems will be strapped to hips (although you don't have toshoot 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 asksthe assembled shooters.
We won't have any crime at Front Sight, not witheveryone trained in firearms and most everyone owning them.
Piazza: 'We won't have any crime at Front Sight,not with everyone trained in firearms,' developer says (By HeatherMartin Morrissey, GNS).
When it's finished, the community is projected to include12 shooting ranges, an assault tower, 400 yards of training tunnels, 177 homelots, 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 forits mobile-home bordellos
Initial approval has been given, and $3 million of infrastructure is in theground. Plans call for a complete community by fall 2002.
Piazza alternately refers to Front Sight as a Disneyland or a Pebble Beach forthe nation's 80 million gun owners. Last year he moved most of his Front SightFirearms Training Institute across the border from its base in Bakersfield,Calif., where automatic weapons such as the Uzi are outlawed for privatecitizens.
The man is a visionary, says Tanya Metaksa, a senior adviser andformer chief lobbyist for the National Rifle Association. She's here for thefree, one-day Uzi class.
I think the idea is great. I hope hesucceeds.
The novelty of Front Sight has captured the news media's fascination. Somereports 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 getan Uzi and the chance to play with guns illegal in most states (ByHeather Martin Morrissey, GNS)
That explains Ryle's presence here and his reluctant gripon an Uzi. Like all journalists wishing to interview Piazza, Ryle, a reporterwith The Sydney Morning Herald, must learn the finer pointsof shooting an assault rifle.
Piazza, 40, is a master marksman and marketer tan from shooting guns in thedesert. 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 appealthat's about as subtle as the Sunday collection plate.
To potential buyers, he even invokes Spike Lee:
How many of you believein what we are doing? Well, then, I am going to ask you to do the rightthing.
Chris Fisher believes he did. He bought a lot and plans to move his family heresomeday. The executive consultant and father of three from Sacramento likes totarget-shoot with his 10-year-old son.
It's a sport, he says, no different than a father-son golf tandem:
I lookat this as an opportunity to help (Piazza) 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 onsociety.
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 Piazza and his initialcontractor, three dozen home lots have sold, he says.
They come with Front Sight's Platinum membership, which includes unlimited useof shooting ranges, free gun cleaning, a leather holster, a heavy silver cardto carry in a coat pocket (
This way when you sweep your coat back to grabthe 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 ridemountain bikes with his five sons.
He's not going to live in a town built around a single activity, guns, golf orotherwise.
For balance, he says,
I don't think you should overinvest inone thing like this … But for law enforcement officers, hey, this place could be perfect.