|EL PAIS SEMANAL
Welcome to Gun City, a vacation
destiny. In the heart of the state of Nevada, not too far from
Las Vegas, a city designed for gun powder lovers.
By Ignacio Carrión.
Pictures by Carlos Serrano.
Gun City. The city of arms. Does this
seem to you like a paradise? You need to see it. We will wait
for you with a gun in our hand and open arms. Highway 160 in
route to Los Angeles. You can’t miss it. Right behind it, Las
Vegas. You can drive very fast. There is very little traffic
at dawn. Bring your gun along. You don’t have one? I am not
surprised. Europe is way behind. That obsession to disarm the
population. We will fix it. No problem. We have an arsenal.
We will loan you what you need. Guns. Rifles. Did I talk to
you about our very successful intensive submachine guns training?
Piazza – the title of Doctor is from his former chiropractic
practice – he is 40 years old. He used to be a chiropractor
in Santa Cruz. Native Californian in a paramilitary fashion.
Energetic. Authoritarian. One day, he was a witness to a street
shooting. He got scared. He then told himself: I will learn
how to shoot. I will build a city like an oasis in the desert.
No criminal will dare to enter it.
and his dream. This is Ignatius
Piazza, a former Californian Chiropractor to whose
fear of a random street shooting caused him to create
a particular world in which arms are its credo. Only armed
men are admitted. Next to him, the model of the urban
project, his dream.
I carefully followed the Doctor’s instructions
I was approaching Gun City, as if I were stepping
over eggs. I was not attacked by sand whirls. Although I felt
a mysterious force surrounding and pushing in front of my car.
In effect, I could hear shots from the depths of an uneven and
dry territory. I looked over the window to wave my white cloth
as a signal of peace. No one came to greet me. But the shots
did not stop. Should I continue? Should I invoke Piazza’s
name in desperation?
In front of a big white tent surrounded by
vehicles, dressed in dark colors, were the instructors. Monumental
hats, huge boots. Big guns hanging off their belts. Dark glasses.
Combat uniforms. Piazza
stood in the middle with a Glock on his hip.
People from both sexes and different ages,
but looking alike with all the different type of armament on
them, were forming groups and followed the instructors directions.
First, you had to sign disclaimer forms that would exonerate
Piazza and his
crew from any responsibility. I signed mine. My signature was
witnessed by another signatory. We all had a clear and visible
name tag, names that are easy to remember: Sean, Dellie, Red,
Chelly, Kirk. We had the tags on our hats. On our backs. In
this practical, simple, and American way, Dr.
Piazza and his instructor team could communicate with each
one of us as if they knew us all our lives.
|Interest with no set ages.
The youngest disciple, Knyte, nine years old right next
to his mother, Tina. Knyte’s parents bought him his first
gun when he was six years old.
The instructors were retired policemen, martial
arts teachers, or specialists in firearms training. Piazza
had recruited them to train the candidates to become Arm Citizens
at Gun City. Dr. Piazza
was a seasoned shooter, a wise promoter of real estate. And
within this inseparable combination of home and machine gun,
real fire and apartment, kitchen knife and bayonet resided the
original commercial project.
The only thing that made me shake were those
cold winds of the Nevada desert. I asked myself in anguish if
in these conditions I could point the gun and empty the chamber.
This was the only condition Piazza
|On the line is Dellie, a veteran
As we were improving, I was able to
notice the other students and how they inserted their bullets
in their chambers. Many of them did it without looking. Quickly
and automatically, Piazza
was on top of the people, he reminded individuals that lead
is more valuable than gold.
He stood by my side and checked that I had
the belt that was carrying the gun properly adjusted. He looked
at me with his shinny eyes and said: “You will see, you will
see”, he repeated, “you will see how everyone will hit the targets
at the 20 meter distance. Look at the little boy”.
Indeed, the boy was there. A nine year
old boy. His name was Knyte and accompanying his mother. Her
name was Tina. Tina said that she was proud of Knyte because
he had a promising future. “We bought his first gun when he
was six. He is a phenomenon.”
|A 9 millimeter
He was indeed. Before the rest of us would
close our eyes to point, the little boy was in position with
his knee on the ground.
During a break, I asked the little boy Knyte
if this was more fun than playing cops and robbers with his
friends, or watching TV. He looked at me uninterested. He said
no. He said that once you taste real fire, it is no longer fun
to play cops and robbers with fake guns.
I then asked Dr.
Piazza about the shootings in the schools. The security
detectors that have been necessary are implemented in some schools.
If children like shooting, will they kill? Doesn’t this worry
Piazza's answer is emphatically "No." The doctor knows that
the best and quickest defense against a killer is a law-abiding,
armed, and trained citizen, even if that citizen is a 9-year
old boy. He has no patience with people who are paranoid about
the freedom to sell arms. To promote his city, he is starting
to build a Personalities Pavilion. In this pavilion there will
be luxury suites available for Hollywood stars, singers, artists,
Two students in the class, Sims and Reid,
black policemen, were happily spending their savings here. Nice
environment, they said. They did not have enough training in
their department. That is how things go.
|Happy couple. Joyce and her
boyfriend think Gun City is a good place to live their
love. They have the most modern weapons that can be found
in the best army in the world.
Sitting with his head looking down and amused,
a 26 year old German participant from Bremen was looking at
the barrel of gun trying to find out if the steel had been manufactured
in his country or in the Empire of the Rising Sun. He continued
his shooting with a couple of Chinese merchants that had repeatedly
been assaulted in their shops and that was the reason for them
An old couple from Pahrump was perhaps the
couple that best represented the community in Gun City. They
had thought to emigrate to Tenerife because there, they said,
there was almost no crime. Several reasons kept them in Nevada,
where they had been assaulted four times and robbed in their
own house. What to do until their new neighborhood in Gun City
was completed? Arm up to the bones and be ready to receive the
robbers with guns.