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Why toy guns — but not real guns — are banned on the Las Vegas strip

Police stand at the scene of a shooting along the Las Vegas Strip, Monday, Oct. 2, 2017, in Las Vegas. Multiple victims were being transported to hospitals after a shooting late Sunday at a music festival on the Las Vegas Strip. (AP Photo/John Locher)
Police stand at the scene of a shooting along the Las Vegas Strip, Monday, Oct. 2, 2017, in Las Vegas. Multiple victims were being transported to hospitals after a shooting late Sunday at a music festival on the Las Vegas Strip. (AP Photo/John Locher) AP

It's been illegal to carry a toy gun on the Las Vegas Strip since 2012, when Clark County commissioners passed an ordinance banning “dangerous objects” from the Strip.

The ban, intended to make the sidewalks safer, prohibited flame throwers, blades over three-inches long and toy guns.

But what it didn’t prohibit was real guns.

Nevada has some of the loosest gun laws in the county — and Nevada state law bars cities, towns and counties from passing their own gun laws, according to VICE News, though municipalities may set restrictions on where guns are discharged.

After the most deadly mass shooting in modern U.S. history left at least 59 dead and 527 injured at a Las Vegas music festival late Sunday, there’s been increased scrutiny on Nevada’s gun laws.

Police say the suspected shooter, Stephen Paddock, 64, had a trove of 19 rifles with him in the 32nd-floor Mandalay Bay hotel room he was shooting from — two of which were on tripods at the window. He sent a torrent of bullets into a crowd of 22,000 enjoying a Jason Aldean performance, injuring hundreds and sending thousands of horrified concert-goers running for safety.

Don Turner, president of the state’s NRA affiliate, the Nevada Firearms Coalition, told VICE News in an interview Monday morning that the state has among the least restrictive gun laws in the country. But he added that “when someone has that kind of mentality, it doesn’t matter what kind of laws you have.”

No permit is required to buy a gun in Nevada, and there’s no limit on the number of guns that one person can purchase at once, according to CNN. Carrying firearms openly is also legal.

So, while street performers in Star Wars Storm Trooper costumes are barred from carrying fake blasters, it’s perfectly legal to openly carry a gun on the Las Vegas Strip, Turner said.

It’s legal to bring guns to polling places, hotels, bars and casinos — even while consuming alcohol — unless expressly forbidden by the specific institution. Guns are not allowed at schools, child care facilities and university campuses.

Semi-automatic weapons as well as machine guns are allowed if they comply with federal law, which outlaws civilians from owning machine guns made after 1986, according to Slate.

Of course, civilians can still get the machine gun experience at a number of Las Vegas gun ranges. At Machine Guns Vegas, you can shoot a M249 (SAW) belt fed machine gun or an M60 belt fed machine gun -- from a helicopter.

It will cost you just shy of three grand.

Although Nevadans voted last year in support of a ballot measure that would mandate background checks on firearm purchases between private parties, Nevada’s attorney general has said the law is unenforceable and put the measure on hold, according to the San Jose Mercury News.

While the U.S. constitution guarantees the right to bear arms, the Nevada constitution specifically protects the right to bear arms for "lawful hunting and recreational use and for other lawful purposes.”

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