Monday, June 7, 1999 Published at 02:17 GMT 03:17 UK
World: Americas

Gun resort opens in US

For these Americans the right to bear arms is a key civil liberty

As legislators in Washington approve new gun-control measures, investors in Nevada are backing the world's first resort for firearms enthusiasts.

Front Site Nevada - a 550-acre site near the gambling mecca of Las Vegas - has 12 firing ranges behind a high-security perimeter fence.

Most weekends, eager new customers are offered free one-day sub-machine gun courses with guns and ammunition provided free.

Just three hours after the novice marksmen fire their first shots, they are allowed on to the shooting ranges.

And the $25m project is flourishing - with 3,000 new students so far this year.

'Four Weapons Combat Master'

The resort is the brainchild of 39-year-old Ignatius Piazza, a former chiropractor, who now calls himself a Four Weapons Combat Master.

Dr. Ignatius Piazza
The spate of school shootings
has not deterred Ignatius Piazza
"What we provide is a comfort. The comfort of skill at arms," explains Mr. Piazza.

The knowledge and the ability of being able to protect yourself in the event that somebody attempts to take your life or injure you severely," he added.

Ignatius Piazza believes that incidents such as the recent school shootings in Colorado would not have happened if everyone was able to protect themselves with a weapon.

In fact, his company is offering to train up to three teachers from any school in the country so that such events "would not happen" in the future.

American frontier heritage

Opposition to gun ownership in this area of the American West is muted.

Nevada's gun-control lobby
Nevada's gun-control lobby is
at odds with local culture
Firearms are regarded as every person's right, except by a few.

Anti-gun campaigner Dr Robert Wesley is one of those speaking out against the gun culture.

"It's just another form of legitimacy for the gun ethic of America," he said.

"A resort implies a place for relaxation - but this is a place where people learn the techniques of death," he said.

But such opinions are rare. Front Site Resort is swiftly gaining a following.