Entertainment: We Use Live Bullets!

Outside magazine, June 1994


Entertainment: We Use Live Bullets!
By John Galvin


We Use Live Bullets!
If you go to tombstone, arizona, this summer, be sure to take along your loaded six-shooter. and don't be surprised if some of the biggest, meanest make-believe cowboys in the west wet their chaps and run for cover.

Such, anyway, is the imaginable fallout from last February's city council decision to repeal a 1977 ban on handguns, which was originally designed to protect the guys playing shoot-'em-up from excitable onlookers. Prompted by a threatened lawsuit from the National Rifle Association, the policy shift brought tiny Tombstone (population 1,250) in line with the rest of Arizona, allowing citizens to carry loaded handguns as long as they aren't concealed.

With the prospect of sun-baked parents sidling into town toting baby Snuglis and lethal weapons, the obvious worry is that somebody will blow a circuit and start shooting during one of Tombstone's O.K. Corral replays. This may seem far-fetched, but already one cowboy, Emmett Kelly Jr., a member of Tombstone's most prominent reenactors' group, the Vigilantes, is so upset that he's decided to stop doing street performances for the foreseeable future.

"There has always been the danger someone will want to 'participate,'" notes the town's fretful mayor, Alex Gradillas. "Now they'll have real bullets in their guns."

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