Phoenix Ousts Shooting Gallery for "Promoting Violence"

Prescott Pete's Highfalutin Shooting Gallery. photo from dcourier.com.

Even in Arizona, a normally gun-friendly state, the national gun debate climate is having an effect on traditional aspects of the shooting lifestyle.

On the recent 4th of July holiday, the City of Phoenix hosted the Fabulous Phoenix 4th, the free family-oriented celebration with about 50 vendors.

But, despite putting in an application, Prescott Pete's Highfalutin Shooting Gallery, a mobile game that uses lasers to set off random targets within an Old West saloon setting, was one of them, because it was deemed inappropriate for the event after a review from the event's committee, according to this story from dcourier.com.

"Everyone agreed that you have a great exhibit, but the City of Phoenix is very conscious about the perception of violence given the current climate," stated the rejection letter.

“The planning committee was not comfortable with an exhibit/game that presented guns in a fun or glorified way,” said Gregg Bach, public information officer for the City of Phoenix Parks and Recreation Department.

The story says that Pete and Valerie Fowler, who own the shooting gallery, took offense to the city’s position.

"To me, it's a case of government overreach and at odds with the political and cultural realities of the state," Pete said.

The story notes that the gallery’s application was rejected before the recent shooting in Orlando.

“if it had happened immediately following the shooting in Orlando, I would have been a bit more understanding, but this was just out of the blue,” Pete said. “For us to make this business work, we have to get into big events like (Fabulous Phoenix 4th). “If I had done this in California, I would have definitely thought, ‘Well, there’s a totally different sensibility there.' But honestly, I just didn’t think we’d ever encounter it in Arizona.”

The story also notes that Arizona in particular has a rich history of Old West themed entertainment with rough and trouble aspects of the Old West living on in gun-fight reenactments, infamous talse of gunfighters like Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday, and shooting galleries of all types in towns like Tombstone, Bisbee, Douglas, Wickenburg, Jerome and Prescott.

In April 2011, Gov. Jan Brewer signed a bill designating the Colt Single Action Army Revolver as the state firearm. Only seven states have such a designation.

"We supplied enough reference material for them to see that we're not shooting people or glorifying it, it's just a fun amusement," Pete said in the story. "But apparently, a historically correct shooting gallery is promoting violence."