Nevada CCW: Shooting Up the Strip

Since national permit reciprocity has the same chance of becoming law as the Cubs winning the Super Bowl (mixed metaphor intended), I’ve been collecting concealed carry permits so that I can strap up everywhere that I tend to spend time. So far, I’m licensed in my home state of Massachusetts, nearby New Hampshire and sunny Florida, but not in Nevada where I’ve spent many months visiting my money. So, I decided after my prior Las Vegas trip to take the required eight-hour class and shooting test on my next Trip to the Strip, which was last week . . .

I arrived in LV on Monday night and stayed until Friday afternoon, so I was interested in a midweek class. I wanted to train at the awesome Clark County Shooting Range, but classes are held there on Sundays only, as near as my Google-fu could tell. Some of the other training classes that were recommended to me also were not available midweek.

Fortunately, The Gun Store in Las Vegas holds classes on Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays, including the Wednesday that I was going to be in town. I registered for the class by computer a week before my scheduled arrival and promptly received a confirmation. The Gun Store is on Tropicana, just 3.5 miles west of the Strip. I stayed at the Rio, on Flamingo just west of the Strip, so TGS’s location was very convenient. Best of all, the class is free. Well, shucks, that’s just what I wanted to pay!

But free doesn’t exactly mean free. I’d still have to rent two guns – a pistol and a revolver. In NV, a shooter has to qualify with the type of gun he or she will carry concealed. If the permit holder is approved only for pistols, he can’t carry a concealed revolver, and vice versa. A permit holder needs to qualify with both to conceal both.

While that’s a PITA, it’s a marked improvement from the prior law that required permit holders to qualify with the exact make and model of pistol that they were carrying. Thus, if a CCW holder wanted to carry any one of ten different pistols in his collection, he’d need to qualify ten times. That’s totally whacked, especially since qualifying with one revolver entitles the holder to carry any revolver. Fortunately, that law has been changed.

I also had to buy the lead-free, frangible ammo that The Gun Store requires at $25 per box for 9mms and .38Spls. The total cost of the free class, rented guns and purchased ammo would be about $75, which I think is pretty reasonable for what I got.

Tuesday night before the class, I studied hard for several hours. At Binion’s on Freemont Street, downtown. Okay, the only shooting I did at Binion’s was at the craps tables, but don’t hate the player, hate the game. It wasn’t my fault.

The Blackjack dealers at the front of the casino, which is open to the street, were the cutest bunch of twenty-something blonde Russian girls I ever did see, with big smiles and little garments. Pretty girls have been taking my money for fifty years so I was helpless to resist. Ah, but the Gods of Odds were smiling down upon me. I was hotter than a two-dollar pistol, and won enough to pay for the gun rentals, ammo, permit fee and a nice lobster dinner afterwards.

The nine-hour class (eight hours of instruction plus 60 minutes of breaks) was taught by a husband and wife team. He’s a LEO and I found his presentation to be a trifle pedantic. Still, he tried to be engaging and drily funny and never once proned-out anyone. She was unpretentious and a pretty good presenter with a dry sense of humor.

For example, we’ve all seen noobs cross their thumbs when firing a pistol. She explained why doing so was a bad idea and described the problem as “self-correcting.” Yes, it is. She also showed how to clean chambers and forcing cones with an unlikely implement – namely, a baby-bottle nipple brush. Hey, it works, and leaves the nipple with the refreshing taste of Hoppe’s. I’m sure kids dig it.

The first part of the eight-hour torture regime was a video where living gunshot victims – crooks and cops alike — carefully explained that gunshots don’t necessarily end the fight or cause death. I would have been more impressed had dead gunshot victims returned to explain that sometimes guns do, but Jonathan Edwards isn’t NRA certified.

After the instructor spoke for a while about I forget what, he introduced yet another video. Lo and behold, it was an Armed Response viddy hosted by our colleague Ralph Mroz, containing a brief episode featuring our very own Rabbi illustrating the Tueller Drill. The Rabbi did the shooting while Mroz did the running, and the point was made.

If a BG is fifteen feet away from you and running balls-out in your direction, you won’t have time to draw and shoot unless you’re as fast as the Rabbi or the BG is as slow as Ralph Mroz. Or both. Since the Rabbi shoots faster than Quickdraw McGraw and Mroz runs like a turtle, the Rabbi actually won. That guy’s a freakin’ cobra, man. We aren’t.

I’ve taken similar classes before and, as a Massachusetts and NRA certified instructor, I’ve given the course. So that loud report that the class heard after a couple of hours was the sound of my head impacting the table. However, a later portion of the lecture covering Nevada law did hold my undivided attention.

Although I’m a lawyer and perfectly capable of reading the statutes for myself, the instructor was able to distill the relevant case law and police enforcement procedures into a coherent and informative hour. I got a lot out of that portion of the program, but the rest was a hideous waste of time for me. Unless you’ve never heard of the NRA’s Three Rules, I think you’d be bored, too.

At the end of the lecture, we took a fifteen-question test that was graded on the spot. The test was easy. I scored 100%. The guy in front of me scored 100%. The blind guy in the last row scored 100%. His guide dog scored 100%. The empty chair in the front row scored 100%. Even Rep. Carolyn McCarthy would have scored 100%, and she’s an utter moron. Then again, there were no questions about the shoulder thing that goes up.

I had the option of immediately taking my shooting practical or returning the next day at 9:00 am. I had my prescription eyes and high-NRR ears with me and I wanted to sleep in the next day, so I decided to go ahead and shoot. I felt like I was taking a chance due to my lack of REMs even though it’s an easy test. I needn’t have been concerned.

I chose a Glock 17 for my qualifying pistol and a Taurus Model 685 for the revolver. I got permission to dry-fire the revolver and I was thrilled with the trigger. If it comes that way, it’s the best revolver trigger ever. If it doesn’t come that way, then the gunsmith who tuned it must have made a pact with Satan, because the trigger was that good.

I believe that the current Nevada minimum test requirements include six rounds at three yards, 12 rounds each at five and seven yards with a reload after six rounds, with no time limit, shooting at a B27 target. A minimum score of 70% is required to pass.

The Gun Store has its own requirements, which includes six rounds right-handed and the same number left-handed, unsupported, at three yards, then six and six at seven yards, then six and six at 15 yards. The last two courses are shot freestyle, meaning one or two handed as the shooter sees fit. Each round, including the reload, must be completed in 60 seconds. A minute for twelve rounds with a reload doesn’t sound like much, but it’s actually all the time in the world. I forced myself to shoot as slowly as erosion and still used less than thirty seconds per round.

Even though I was bleary-eyed and the air conditioning was making my target flap around like a break dancer on speed, I had a perfect score with the pistol and one 8-ring hit with the revolver. Which is really nothing to brag about, since the oval 10-ring on a B27 is by itself almost as large as the targets I typically use. While I didn’t shoot a single tight group, I hit the oval on 71 out of 72 shots and felt that I should have done much better. Not that it mattered. The test is pass/fail and I passed.

The next day, I went to the fingerprint bureau to turn in my paperwork, get my electronic prints and pics and pay the $97.50 fee. The office on Cameron Street west of the Strip is very modern and well-appointed, so I know that the LVMPD is putting all those $97.50s to good use. Oh, if you’re going there to get your casino workers card, bring cash, because that’s all they take.

There’s a convenient ATM right in the office. However, if you’re going there to pay for your CCW, bring a cashier’s check or money order, because they don’t take cash for that. If you forgot your cashier’s check, no worries, mate. There’s a Western Union office on the corner of West Flamingo and Jones. I got my money order there and the cost was zero. Nothing. Well, shucks, that’s just what I wanted to pay!

Bring a book, because you might be hanging around the fingerprint bureau for a while. It took me about 1 ½ hours to get processed as thoroughly as a Hormel salami, even though the office wasn’t all that busy. On the other hand, the staff was unfailingly polite and the assembly line was reasonably efficient. I’ll get my permit by mail just as soon as the FBI gets off its ass and sends Nevada the all-clear.

Even though the process was no more painful that getting my first driver’s license, there still was something troubling about the experience. Forget for a second that I’m a nationally certified instructor, but I still had to sit through seven hours of stuff that I teach. Forget also that I’m already licensed in three states and have already suffered through every “firearms health check” known to man except anal probing. The fact is that in “hoplophobic” Massachusetts, I had to go through less bureaucratic  gobbledygook than I did in gun-friendly Nevada. To wit:

Nevada Massachusetts
Concealed Carry Shall Issue Statewide May Issue Statewide
Most Cities Are De Facto No Issue
Most Towns Are De Facto Shall Issue
Classroom Training 8 Hours 4 Hours
Shooting Practical Required Not Required
Gun Registration Required in Clark County Required Statewide
Must Appear in Person Handled By Mail
Resident Permit Fee $97.50 $100
Term 5 Years 6 Years
Nonresident Permit Fee $97.50 $100.00
Term 5 Years 1 Year
Recertification Required for Renewal Not Required for Renewal
Castle Law No Yes
Retreat Required, No Immunity Retreat NOT Required, No Immunity
Assault Weapons Law Are you kidding? We invented that!

You see, there are actually two Massachusettses — or is it Massachuti? Whatever. Parts of Massachusetts are extremely gun-shy. In Boston, Mayor Menino regularly conspires with New York’s Mayor Michael Scumbag Blamebag Bloomberg, his co-founder of the Illegal Mayors Against Guns, to keep his subjects helpless.

In surrounding towns with a large population of black and Hispanic folk, concealed carry is verboten. Because it just wouldn’t do to empower law-abiding black or Hispanic subjects to defend themselves with legal guns, would it? However, even in anti-gun cities, it’s not that hard to get a gun for home defense. Just don’t try walking around with it.

In other parts of the Commonwealth, where elected officials actually have brains in their widdle heads, carry guns are cool for residents. For non-residents, not so much. MA does not like visitors with guns. But all of Massachusetts has a Castle Law, while Nevada has been struggling to enact one for several years and can’t seem to get the job done. Then again, Massachusetts has an AWB, a law that’s so stupid it could only have been written by a Harvard man.

But what really differentiates LV form MA is “flashing,” or the inadvertent exposure of a handgun with no intent to intimidate or cause fear. It may come as a surprise that full-on open carry isn’t illegal in either MA or NV, which should eliminate the flashing problem. Uh-uh. Flashing will draw unwanted police attention in either state.

A Nevada permit holder who flashes in, say, a Costco in Las Vegas can expect to be shot dead by a bunch of “heroic” LEOs, including one with two prior fatal shootings on his record. A Massachusetts license holder who flashes in front of, say, the courthouse in Worcester and who is hassled by a local cop with a bad attitude can expect an apology from the local chief LEO. True cases, both.

I’m not saying that Massachusetts is a gun owner’s paradise, nor that Nevada is anti-gun, or that Massachusetts cops are morally superior to LVMPD cops. What I am saying is that Massachusetts isn’t New Jersey or New York, and that Nevada isn’t Vermont or Arizona. Whiffs of hoplophobia can be detected almost anywhere in this country if you know which way the wind blows. It’s up to each of us to purge America of that particular mental illness before that particular mental illness purges freedom.

Viva Las Vegas, baby. My next time there, I’m coming heavy.