Disturbing Trend: The Rise of Luxury Gun Clubs
Call it the future of country clubs nationwide; call it excess for excess' sake. Whatever you call it, "guntry clubs," as they’ve been dubbed, are become all the rage.
Replacing the typical shooting range, luxury gun clubs have become a state-of-the-art space where wealthy lovers of that Second Amendment right to bear arms can exercise their much-beloved freedoms in a well-appointed space.
“We don’t want to just hand them a gun and just say ‘here,’” Mike Pryor, general manager of Lock & Load Miami, a high-class gun club that finds ambiance to be on equal footing with ammunition, told Yahoo News. “We make it an experience. We want them to get some real-world-type training.”
A retired Miami Beach police officer, Pryor told Yahoo! News that the rise in popularity of gun clubs is thanks to a general re-understanding of what it is people enjoy about weaponry. It’s more than just for defense; it’s an entire sensory experience. “We’re in the middle of an entertainment area,” he explains. “We’re an entertainment complex, if you will.”
This new disturbing pocket of the entertainment industry has snowballed in the last three years, with upscale gun clubs popping up everywhere from Texas to Miami to Vegas to Virginia. Rocky Mountain states, too, are seeing their share.
“They are popping up more often now than they did five years ago,” Zach Snow, promotions manager with the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), told Yahoo News. Snow and the NSSF represent the manufacturers and dealers of the growing industry.
The Frisco Gun Club located in Dallas sold 2,400 memberships before it officially opened this past Thanksgiving. The Frisco Gun Club in Texas reports revenue of up to $12 million. The Lock & Load gun club in Miami boasts annual memberships that vary $200 to $800 depending on memberships; some even offer VIP packages with one-time initiation costs of $7,500 and $9,250.
“One of the differences from your typical gun range is when you walk in this building, is it feels a little more like walking into a high-end department store,” said Brandon Johnson, vice president of marketing for Dallas’s Frisco Gun Club.
In the wake of Sandy Hook, Aurora, a beginning of 2014 that has seen school shootings all too frequently, and a seemingly endless barrage of homicides in Florida, the rise of luxury gun clubs seems a slap in teh face to those who would love to see stricter gun control and a decline in America's love affair with weaponry.
No such luck. Firearms sales nevertheless saw a considerable spike in 2013 to an all-time high. And despite the numerous tragedies, last October, a Gallup poll found that the nation still remains fiercely divided over passing stricter gun laws.
Again from YahooNews:
“They are constantly trying to find new avenues to increase gun sales and to normalize gun ownership, not just to adults but to children,” said Josh Sugarmann, executive director at the Violence Policy Center. “It's kind of like turning strip clubs into gentleman's clubs — it's still at its core the same concerns and the same dangers.”
The luxury gun clubs are not as exclusive as one might think—anyone willing to shell out the cash is welcome. Some clubs are beginning to try and lure in larger groups, including kids. Still, some restrictions do apply: Frisco Gun Club doesn’t permit shooters younger than 8 yet is planning a promotion where a family of four can get a pizza, drinks, and of course a rental handgun with some time on the range for roughly $90.
Yahoo also found Demetra Caston, a 33-year-old mom, who wants to is make the experience of shooting more full and convienent for the whole family “I want to get them a little more training before we get going,” Caston said of her children. “But I think it's a great idea because of the way that the club is set up, it's easier to bring your children and family.”