January 04, 2022
It’s no secret that the city of Las Vegas, and particularly the large hotels and casinos on the Strip that house many SHOT Show participants, don’t give a flip about the right to keep and bear arms. In the last couple of years, most of these hotels have tightly restricted gun possession on their properties—not just concealed carry, but even storage within a safe in guest rooms.
The incongruity of having the SHOT Show—basically a huge celebration of the Second Amendment and the industry it has spawned—in such firearm-unfriendly environs isn’t lost on many participants. Still, the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) continues to keep the show in Vegas instead of moving to some more gun-friendly venue.
It doesn’t help that Las Vegas has a high rate of violent crime when compared to the rest of the country. Data released in early 2021 show Las Vegas with a violent crime rate of 5.34 per 1,000 residents, substantially higher than the national median of 4 per 1,000. Your chance of becoming a victim of violent crime in Vegas is 1 in 187, far higher than your chance of hitting a big jackpot at a casino on the Strip.
Property crimes aren’t much better, with Vegas displaying 22.87 such crimes per 1,000 residents, higher than the national norm of 19. Consequently, in Vegas you have a 1 in 44 chance of being a victim of a property crime.
Unfortunately, Nevada gun laws allow public places, such as the Las Vegas Strip, casinos, movie theaters and houses of worship, to make their own policies. Consequently, most entirely ban gun possession on hotel grounds.
To learn just how bad the situation might be, I recently contacted 10 of the biggest properties most frequented by SHOT Show participants, including the host property, to see how each would answer two simple questions: 1) Is concealed carry permitted in the hotel?; and 2) Can a guest store a firearm in their room safe or a locked gun case in their room?
Most hotels have their firearms policy (many call it a “weapons policy”) hidden somewhere in the page after page of information available on their websites. But I wanted to get the news straight from a person, at least when a hotel’s policy seemed confusing or was difficult to interpret.
Let’s start with the good news, since there was so little to be found. Since former President Donald Trump had a modicum of respect for the Second Amendment—especially compared to the current resident of the White House—one might think that the Trump would be among the most permissive concerning firearms. As it turns out, that is, in fact, the case.
When I called the hotel, I was immediately put in touch with Lavonce, who quickly explained that not only does the hotel allow concealed carry, but firearms are also permitted in guest rooms. “When carrying a firearm in the room, you’ll need to alert the front desk and won’t have access to housekeeping services,” Lavonce explained, which to me is more than a fair tradeoff.
Emboldened with a good first answer, I quickly dug into the rest of the list. By the time I was finished making calls and digging around on the internet, I was completely disillusioned.
First, I called the popular and ritzy Palazzo and spoke to Linda, a customer service representative there.
“No, we do not allow concealed carry anywhere on the property,” she said. “If you bring a firearm on the property you must check it in at security, and it will be returned to you when you leave.”
As for storing your firearm in a safe in your room, that’s also a no-no. I guess that safe is just for all your big casino winnings.
“No, you cannot even take a firearm to your room,” Linda stressed. “You must check it at security.”
Of course, I wasn’t surprised by that. I’d already checked the firearm policy for the Palazzo and sister hotel the Venetian and knew the drill.
“Except for on-duty law enforcement and special events with advance approval, firearms are not allowed on property, including in vehicles,” the policy states, further exacerbating the problem by disallowing storage within a safe in your vehicle. “Knives with a blade length greater than four inches are also prohibited.
“Should a guest arrive on property with a weapon, it must be checked with Security on arrival. It will be safely secured and returned to the guest upon departure or as necessary.”
Not to be deterred, I pressed on with my list. The first lady I reached at Caesar’s Palace preferred to pass the buck. Instead of answering my questions, she gave me a number to call for just such inquiries. Ironically, it took me back to the hotel operator, who transferred me to security, where someone answered but after a few minutes disconnected the call.
After another 15 minutes of digging on Caesar’s website with no luck, I called again, talked to a person with such a strong accent I could barely understand her, then was given the same number to call as earlier, where another switchboard person again transferred me to security. Oh, boy!
This time, however, the security representative was quick to respond to my concealed carry question. “No,” she said, sounding almost apologetic. “What we do is escort you back to our office and lock it in one of our lockers and you keep the key. When you are leaving, come back and get the firearm from the office. You’ll be the only one that has that key.”
As to locking your firearm in the safe in your room, the answer was also a solid “no.” “It will have to be back here in security,” she said.
Treasure Island made things a little easier for me, with an easy-to-find weapons policy that clearly states, “Firearms and other weapons are strictly prohibited on the premises.” Nevertheless, I decided to give the hotel a jingle to see if they cared to elaborate. They would not. I was transferred—whether accidentally or not—into oblivion twice before giving up and taking the website’s statement as true.
MGM Grand was also good enough to put its punitive, 2A-unfriendly weapons policy on its website, even though it hid it on a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page. “Firearms are not permitted at any of the MGM Resorts properties, including within our hotel rooms,” the policy states. “If requested, safekeeping of properly registered firearms can be arranged.” I’m not sure what a properly registered firearm is, but I certainly don’t own any.
The web folks at the Bellagio made finding anything about that property’s weapons policy all but impossible, but a quick phone call cleared things up pretty quickly. Turns out the Bellagio is a property of MGM Resorts, with the very same weapons policy, even though I was unable to find that information on the website.
I next headed over to the Mirage website to see what the situation is at that popular hotel. Alas, the Mirage is also owned by MGM Resorts. Consequently, it has the same weapons policy as both the MGM Grand and the Bellagio. Amazingly, one company has managed to tread on your Second Amendment rights in three different Las Vegas Strip properties!
As for The Wynn, I didn’t even bother giving those folks a call. Their owner, Steve Wynn, bragged after a mass shooting from a Las Vegas Hotel a few years ago that the perpetrator wouldn’t have been able to carry out his plans from the Wynn because of his hotel’s strict no-guns policy.
“We don’t allow guns in this building unless they’re being carried by our employees,” Wynn told Fox News at the time. That’s straight from the horse’s mouth. [EDITOR’S NOTE: The Wynn will not allow any firearms carried or stored in guest rooms. Guests are offered firearms storage in the company’s safe, and if the guest refuses the reservation is canceled. It has been reported that the Wynn uses hidden metal detectors and other scanning devices from Evolv Technology to alert security to whomever is suspected to be carrying a gun on their person or in their luggage. Firearms News has also heard reports that hotel staff (maids, room service, etc.) have been trained to alert hotel security if there is any suspicion of weapons in rooms.]
SANDS EXPO CENTER
Of course, the big daddy of them all—the Sands Expo Center where the SHOT show is actually held—doesn’t allow participants to carry a firearm, either. That property’s policy states, “Sands Expo Center policy prohibits the carrying of personal firearms and ammunition."
For those heading to celebrate freedom at the SHOT Show in Las Vegas later this month, we hope you have a good time and stay safe, but don’t miss the irony that staying safe will be harder to do since you won’t be able to practice one of America’s most basic freedoms in most places where you stay and work during the show. And if you are traveling from Ohio, Florida, Mississippi, South Carolina, South Dakota, or Virginia, take note that as of July 2021 Nevada no longer recognizes CCW licenses from those states.
[EDITOR’S NOTE: Firearms News’ Handguns & PCC Field Editor, James Tarr, just experienced anti-gun Vegas when he attended the Red Oktober AK competition last October. From his article series: “I was shooting the next morning, so I went to bed early. Then my phone started blowing up. Apparently other people hadn’t thought through the whole “carrying obvious rifle cases through the notoriously anti-gun casino/hotels” situation properly, and as a result I had a parade of people dropping off guns to my sketchy motel room until after midnight local (3 a.m. Michigan time).”]
Freelance writer and editor Mark Chesnut is the owner/editorial director at Red Setter Communications LLC. An avid hunter, shooter and political observer, he has been covering Second Amendment issues and politics on a near-daily basis for the past 20 years.