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Florida’s machine gun theme park gives kids a chance to shoot real bullets at fantasy threats

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A new tourist attraction in Florida will allow children as young as 13 to fire live ammunition at fake zombies and Wild West gunslingers.

Machine Gun America, a 13,000-square-foot theme park, opens this weekend across from Kissimmee’s nostalgic Old Town attraction.

It’s not a shooting range, so guests are not permitted to bring their own firearms, but the attraction will offer military-grade training simulators involving up to four guests at a time.

Guests will also be able to imagine themselves as crime fighters, international spies, and special operations troops in the theme park’s shooter simulations.

Teens will be permitted to take part with a parent’s permission, but all guests must be accompanied by a trained range safety officer.

“I’ve had a lot of children fire with me before, and I’m always prepared because I am the one the whole time who is holding the firearm,” said Natasha Schweitzer, one of those range safety officers.

General Manager Bruce Nierenberg said no guests at Machine Gun America are permitted to shoot by themselves or control a weapon without a range safety officer participating alongside.

A 9-year-old girl accidentally shot and killed her shooting instructor in August at an Arizona roadside attraction that allowed guests – including children – to fire automatic weaponry.

The girl was unable to control the recoil action on an Uzi she was shooting, and a bullet struck 39-year-old Charles Vacca as he stood alongside her.

Machine Gun America expects to draw at least 70 percent of its visitors from the Orlando area’s heavy convention market, and the average age of those tourists is 45 years old.

“It’s romanticizing our freedom and our history,” Nierenberg said. “I mean, it’s part of American life. That’s how we gained our freedom.”

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