VIRGINIA CITY — Guns and alcohol will no longer mix for “gunslingers” in the Old West mining town of Virginia City about 25 miles southeast of Reno.
Storey County Sheriff Jim Miller said he plans to step up enforcement of the county’s ordinance prohibiting alcohol consumption by history re-enactors wearing a gun.
Miller said he’s taking the action because some people have abused the privilege.
“We have guys coming up from Reno who want to carry loaded guns and drink beer,” he told the Nevada Appeal. “They want to drink and carry a gun and look like cowboys. But you can see how easy that would be for someone drinking to accidentally put a live round in there and hurt someone.”
The ordinance requires gunfighter performers and other re-enactors to obtain a permit from the Sheriff’s Office that includes a background check.
The weapon must be holstered and must remain empty of all ammunition at all times, unless someone is directly participating in a scheduled event.
Guns cannot be concealed, and the carrying of live ammunition is prohibited.
“We can’t have it mixed with alcohol,” Miller said. “Even if the gun isn’t loaded, they can’t drink alcohol and wear their gun.”
A group called the Virginia City Outlaws performs gunfights on an outdoor theater during the summer.
Under a program sponsored by the Virginia City Convention and Tourism Authority, volunteers dressed up in period costumes, including six-guns, pose for photographs for tourists.
Joe Curtis, a member of the authority board, said stricter enforcement comes after several people with felony convictions showed up in town dressed as gunslingers.
“Accidents are a big concern,” he said. “If you have one of these guns and you have real ammunition, the potential for accidents is great. You get someone intoxicated, they rip it (the gun) out of their holster, accidents can happen.”