Out of the Lights

I 24 Hours

From the architectural wonders to the synthetic cities, from New York to Paris to Venice, from Coney Island to the Eiffel Tower to the Venice Canals, from Flamingo to Tropicana to the Strip, it has never seemed a more suitable time for this desert city to go to sleep. From the blue-lit clubs to the purple lounges to the sun-kissed cabanas, from the candelabra to the glittering stars to the spraying fountains, from the 1800 Silver Tequila to the peach schnapps to the Fernet-Branca, if only for 24 hours. But the city that never sleeps, never does.

A microcosm of America, to be sure, at the most opportune time. Dim-lit bars, discarded adult invitations, refuse-strewn pavements. Shooting and hunting conventions, combat arms expositions, discount firearm and ammunition bazaars. Indoor shooting ranges.

The sustained fusillade that swept the southern Strip last Sunday evening defied some of the justification that those advocates of unbridled access to M&P-style armaments and ammunitions to the typical American citizen under some recent hallowed interpretation of the Second Amendment of our Constitution, one being that the perpetrator presently appears to be just such a person—a lone aficionado of the art and science of the civilian soldier of fortune—and not some deranged kid with braces and a pock-marked face with bangs to his nose who’d narrowly been saved from a stay at a mental hospital by a protective mother and had subsequently fallen off his meds under her delinquent supervision. No, this shooting was straight out of the arms-enthusiast playbook: some 23 armaments onsite and another 24 or so strewn across two locations and purchased across four states, with 33 coming in the last 12 months; some 14 semi-automatic rifles onsite had legitimate rapid-trigger stock modifications to the tune of hundreds of rounds per minute; .308-caliber conventional rifles; .223-caliber AR-15s; an AK-47; high-capacity magazines; magnification scopes; EOTech holographic sights; forward hand grips; surveillance cameras. A weekend warrior’s wet dream, the arsenal made the mobilized Las Vegas PD look like the Boy Scouts. An officer was hunched a ground floor below the assassin’s 32nd floor for nine minutes before another identified his room on the floor above; nobody moved until tactical units arrived 24 minutes later, and it was another 33 minutes before the door to the room was blown open.

Although we’ve moved disarmingly forward from the mass-produced prime-and-load Springfield Flintlock in use when the amendment was conceived to sanction well-constituted state militias, it’s never a good time to talk gun and purchase restrictions or an assault-weapons and high-capacity magazine ban; we’re told especially not now, so we won’t. Besides, James Brady is dead, buried, and forgotten. Suffice is to say we live under a federal government that is currently much more interested in boasting about search and rescue operations and pointing to the virtues of our first responders than in forestalling the actual events from occurring themselves. We’re just here, then, for a little show and tell. After all, it was all legally procured.

II Show / Tell

At Daniel Defense, I “satisfied my taste” for a DD custom-built M4 rifle—four of which were found in the shooter’s hotel room—by using its custom web “virtual” tool to build an AR-style rifle with the components I was “most passionate about.” I thought maybe there’d be a statement from Mr. Daniel, the armorer himself, about the tragic barrage greeting visitors on his homepage, but no, just a selection of sleek, expensive semiautomatic riles and quality components for sale for connoisseurs like myself. Oh well, I chose a black finish with the DD Tornado furniture color instead of the popular mil-spec+brown, a cost-effective Geissele SSA 2-stage trigger, a 5.56 NATO mid-length gas system for softer felt recoil, a lightweight-profile midlength 1.7 twist standard military 14.5” CHF barrel, a Gemtech carbon-cutting flash hider with pinned extender, a 5.56 complete bolt carrier group, an aluminum 12.0 SLiM rail for “incredible” weight savings, a streamlined A1.5 fixed rear sight, a textured Tornado vertical grip for a full positive handle, and an Aimpoint micro mount with absolute cowitness. I’ll have the precision gunsmithed and engraved M4 shipped from DD’s state-of-the-art Black Creek, Georgia, facility within seven days to my FFL dealer due south of the Strip—although Discount Firearms+Ammo is an awesome shop!—instead of to my California one to avoid the magazine restrictions, and my 2017 federal tax return can more than take care of the $2035.80 price, which includes federal tax + $19.95 shipping. In fact, my return can cover another I covet.

As an addition to my FN America FN 15 16” 5.56 NATO matte-black M4 Collector Carbine with 30 Rd. capacity and pistol grip—similar to three also discovered in room 135—I’m looking at the Sig Sauer—another elite brand favored by the shooter—SIG516 5.56 NATO with “unmatched” reliability and function and adjustable gas valve for “adverse conditions.” I’m going to pick one up at Henderson Defense Industries Lock N Load Tactical due south of McCarron International just beyond the I-215. It’ll be worth the taxi ride down because I’m going to save $190 at Lock N Load’s $1604.62 base price. Add in a few ProMag 30-round high-capacity clips for the desert and a few Ruger 5-round detachables for Cali and that’ll just about do it. I’ve already spent my state return on my auto insurance, but who drives in Vegas?

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III Vive La Vie

After taking the ramp underneath the Coney Island Roller Coaster and down past the Statue of Liberty, I like to start the morning with a stroll through the damp boulevards of New York New York, then across the walkway toward the MGM Grand and down the Boulevard under the Montgolfier Balloon and into the neoclassical Beau-Arts façade to a seat at Le Café ile St. Louis for a Parisian breakfast—just love the lucid open-air ambiance there!—then a stopover at one of the pretty deserted midmorning tables for Blackjack and then Five-Card Draw—no Three-Card Poker for me! From there, I’ll walk out under the massive frame of the Eiffel Tower and cross the Boulevard high toward Flamingo Road then into the Bellagio’s glitzy glass enchantment, past Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Prada, Dior, Tiffany & Co, Chanel, and Georgio Armani, just past the Boulevard Shops to the Bellagio Gallery of Fine Art, then just next door to Café Gelato. Quitting the glass enchantment, gelato in hand, I’ll then step inside a taxi—no Uber for me!—for a midafternoon excursion up the Strip and across I-15 to MGV, where I’ll warm up with a Glock 17 9x19mm, Colt M4 Commando, and H & K MP5 submachine gun in the Urban Assault Experience, adding in an FN Herstal 5.56 M249 Light Machine Gun just like our guys in Afghanistan; then, after really getting the blood moving and laughing at the afterthought of the gelato, I won’t resist assuming a KRISS Vector from one of the girls and tear up a target or two—can’t get enough of that cool asymmetrical recoil—Damn! Shaken, stirred, euphoric, I’m in line for a short ride back down toward Flamingo to Rio, where the shade in the ornate carport is always welcome. Then, it’s into the lobby, past the chill modern ambiance of iBar Ultra Lounge and into the booming, smoky Masquerade Village, past the bar and up the high-speed glass Tower Elevator with its vertiginous view of the backside of the west-side Strip to the 51st floor for a rooftop cocktail or two, a Giant Tiger Prawns appetizer, and some conversation at Voodoo after cleaning myself up a bit.

From Rio, I’ll take a shuttle over to Harrah’s, then walk down the Boulevard past Madame Tussauds and into the sun-drenched vista of the Venetian, past the placid pools and the Gondalas and into the casino to check out the cocktail waitresses—absolutely the very best outfits in town! Then it’s out and across the pedestrian bridge to Treasure Island as the shadows deepen and the sun finally disappears behind the immense folding structure of the hotel above, into Sirens’ Cove before the fronds, through the casino to the tram to the adjacent Mirage, where it’s then through the domed, leafy atrium and an immediate right—nice to not have to walk through a casino to get somewhere!—for a quiet dinner of General Tso’s Chicken or Mongolian Beef and an imported beer at FIN. From there, it’s back on the tram to TI for the 9:30 showing of Mystère—I can never see it enough and anyway still prefer it to the new stuff, which make me a little uncomfortable. Waiting for the show to start, sitting on an aisle, I’ll seemingly still feel the vibration of the Kriss Special V in my hands. Afterward, after exchanging knowing glances with a brunet perhaps with a small coterie of girlfriends, I’ll step into the Mystère Store to see if they have anything from Dead Men Tell No Tales—I’ve seen it twice—then, with a short Decaf Americano from the adjacent Starbucks in hand, I’ll meet the cool night air inspired by the breathtaking acrobatics and artistic aspirations once again. I will actually have been thinking about a cab—even an Uber or a Lyft!—somewhat stiff and worn from the day’s endeavors, but now a moonlit stroll back up the Boulevard will be definitely in order. Strewn now with discarded invitations, promotions, discounts, and detritus, I’ll make my way past the frolicking Fountains once again, with the ghastly spectre of the lit Bellagio and Caesar’s Palace against the blackened sky. I’ll make it to the walkway on Soleil’s wings, then into the hotel, up an elevator, and down the quietly eerie and deserted, seemingly endless, hallway to the room. Inside, after sitting on the bed for a bit and then brushing my teeth, I’ll likely pass out to some soft-core on one of the adult channels, because, you know, it’s Vegas and all that, and I don’t stay out all night, though it’ll be CNN when I awake the following morning.

If I didn’t happen to see ya, you know, maybe tomorrow, down past the Flamingo in The Linq Promenade in line at Gordon Ramsey Fish & Chips. I should be over there at about four or so. Join me for a Biscoff Shake or just an imported or craft beer. Until then, Vive la vie!

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© 2017 John Tyler/24 Hours

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