VIRGINIA CITY, Nev. – History re-enactors posing as Old West gunslingers here need to follow some modern rules, the sheriff says: Guns and alcohol don't mix.
A Storey County ordinance prohibits alcohol consumption by history re-enactors wearing a gun, but Sheriff Jim Miller said he's going to increase enforcement of the ordinance because some people have abused it.
"They want to drink and carry a gun and look like cowboys," Miller said. "But you can see how easy that would be for someone drinking to accidentally put a live round in there and hurt someone."
Under a program sponsored by the Virginia City Convention and Tourism Authority, volunteers dress in period costumes, including six-guns, and pose for photographs for tourists each summer.
Joe Curtis, a member of the authority board, said stricter enforcement comes after several people with felony convictions showed up in town dressed as gunslingers.
"If you have one of these guns and you have real ammunition, the potential for accidents is great," Curtis said.
The ordinance in this former mining town about 25 miles south of Reno requires gunfighter performers and other re-enactors to obtain a permit from the sheriff's office that includes a background check.
The weapon must be holstered and must remain empty of all ammunition at all times, unless someone is directly participating in a scheduled event. A group called the Virginia City Outlaws performs gunfights in an outdoor theater during the summer.