Crime

Las Vegas Strip Hilton Fatal Shooting Shows Legal, Safety Concerns, Experts Say

The recent Las Vegas Strip Hilton shooting where a man killed his 15-year-old brother with a self-assembled firearm provides important lessons to others. These apply to gun owners and hotels alike, according to academics who follow gun-related issues.

Timothy Daniel Lytton, law professor at Georgia State University’s College of Law, shown here. Lytton warns about liability if hotel guests improperly use a weapon and hotels failed to undertake proper measures. On Sunday, a teenager was allegedly killed by his brother at Las Vegas’ Hilton Grand Vacations. (Image: Georgia State)

Following Sunday’s incident at the Hilton Grand Vacations, Chance Wilson, 20, now faces life in prison if convicted on a murder charge.

He told police he did not know the gun was loaded. The firearm used in the shooting was described as a “black Glock 9mm handgun.” He had assembled it after buying parts online, the Las Vegas Review-Journal said.

The fatal shooting comes just about three years after the Oct. 1, 2017 mass shooting at Mandalay Bay. That left hundreds of concert-goers dead or wounded.

Nevada law now permits the concealed carry of firearms in casinos. However, casino staff may legally ask gun-carriers to leave the property. Those who refuse to leave could be charged with trespassing.

A permit is needed in Nevada to carry a concealed weapon anywhere in the state. To get a permit requires taking a class, paying a $100 fee, and passing background checks.

The open carry of firearms in Nevada is legal in most places. But there are some restrictions.

Timothy Daniel Lytton, Distinguished University Professor at the Center for Law, Health and Society at Georgia State University’s College of Law, explained that all public accommodations “are exposed to liability for failure to take reasonable measures to prevent the improper use of firearms on their property.

“Las Vegas should be especially aware of this in light of the $800 million settlement arising out of the Las Vegas [Oct. 1] shooting,” Lytton told Casino.org.

“The issue of gun use and violence is particularly concerning for casino resorts due to the Oct. 1 shooting,” agreed Anthony Cabot, Distinguished Fellow of Gaming Law at UNLV’s Boyd School of Law.

Tourists Must Follow Law, Weapon Recommendations

When it comes to individual tourists, Robert J. Spitzer, Distinguished Service Professor of political science at SUNY Cortland, and author of The Politics of Gun Control, said they must obey the local laws, understand proper handling and storage of firearms, cooperate with local authorities, and not endanger others.

“All of these concerns are especially great in a place like Las Vegas, which has such a large tourist trade, mixed with gambling and alcohol,” Spitzer explained to Casino.org.

Hotels are not like air travel, for example, where bags are X-rayed or opened for inspection,” Spitzer added.

“I’m sure that security vigilance is greater in Vegas hotels and elsewhere since 2017. But they face obvious limits on how much security can be imposed without angering or alienating customers and tourists.”

The National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) says that firearm owners’ responsibility for safety can be summed up in four general guidelines. These include: treat a firearm as if it is always loaded, keep the firearm pointed in a safe direction, keep fingers off the trigger until you are ready to shoot, and know your target and what is beyond, according to NSSF spokesman Mark Oliva. Training is important, too.

Dangers of DIY Guns

Sunday’s fatal shooting at the Hilton also raises issues about assembling a gun.

Lytton confirmed how hobbyists and other “gun enthusiasts have long assembled their own guns from parts kits or fabricated parts.” But that can lead to legal concerns.

A primary concern here is that guns sold in the form of parts kits are exempt from regulations governing firearms sales — such as background checks — and some kits may enable the fabrication of a gun without a serial number,” Lytton warned.

“Some of these guns are poorly designed or constructed, which increases the risk of accidental harm.”

Spitzer agreed. He noted how buyers “may be looking to avoid background checks or being identified by in-person sellers, or they may be looking to construct untraceable guns.”

Ghost Guns Found at Crime Scenes

He adds that untraceable firearms, also known as “ghost guns,” are “turning up much more frequently at crime scenes.”

Anthony Cabot further suggests that resort casinos should have internal policies that prohibit the possession of firearms on the premises by guests. In fact, he says casinos have numerous safety measures and protocols in place.

Casinos are among the safest entertainment venues, and guests have no legitimate reasons to possess firearms when visiting,” Cabot told Casino.org.

He favors the tightening of legislation to reflect that reality. “The Nevada legislature should restrict the possession of guns in the casinos except for law enforcement and security personnel qualified under new regulation 5.1055,” Cabot said.

Ed Silverstein

Gaming Law, Tribal Gaming, Crime, Gaming Research----An award-winning journalist with credits ranging from the Associated Press to American Lawyer Media, Ed joined the Casino.org news team in 2019 with decades of legal reporting expertise under his belt. His past reporting and editing assignments include Cowles Business Media, Columbia University Press, the Connecticut Post, and Southern Connecticut Newspapers, Inc. Besides the law and its application to the gaming industry, Ed’s areas of expertise span business, courts, crime, politics, education, and state and local government. With an undergraduate degree from the University of Connecticut (where he now lives), and master’s degrees from Harvard and Yale, Ed’s professional awards include recognition from the New England Press Association and New England AP News Executives. Email: ed.silverstein@casino.org

View Comments

  • Nevada law now permits the concealed carry of firearms in casinos. However, casino staff may legally ask gun-carriers to leave the property. Those who refuse to leave could be charged with trespassing. whatt da faqqqq

Share
Published by
Ed Silverstein