Owner of The Gun Store in Las Vegas loses control of business, files for bankruptcy

The Gun Store offers shooting packages, including a wedding ceremony in its chapel, with five shotgun blasts each by the newlyweds, and a “Vegas VIP” option at almost $1,000 per person that lets customers shoot submachine guns, a sniper rifle, an AK-47 and more.

And, since nothing says Vegas like heavily armed, scantily clad women, bestbachelorpartylasvegas.com has images of a barely dressed blonde with a handgun, an ammo bandolier and a belt buckle with The Gun Store’s logo, as well as a photo gallery that includes a porn star in a Gun Store shirt.

“Do you love beautiful woman (sic) and guns? Check out these photos of our Gun Store girls,” the site says.

The Gun Store used to be the only tourist-focused shooting range in town, Irwin said. The Review-Journal reported in early 2012 that its ads were “commonplace” at McCarran International Airport, on taxicabs and on billboards “anywhere tourists queue outdoors.” But more options were on the way, as eight other machine-gun ranges reportedly had opened by the end of that year.

Competitors include The Range 702, Machine Guns Vegas and Strip Gun Club. Overall, Irwin said last week, competition had sliced The Gun Store’s foot traffic “basically in half.”

He expanded his range from 12 lanes to 30 — or 36 “if you count the wedding chapel” — and constructed a new building for it. Las Vegas-based Meadows Bank financed the project, he said.

Irwin, however, filed bankruptcy protection for The Gun Store in summer 2015. He claimed $4.2 million in liabilities, and his listed creditors included banks, ammunition vendors, a bookkeeper, a cleaning-products supplier, and media companies (including the Review-Journal, which had a $4,811.83 claim for newspaper advertising).

In summer 2016, his lender Bank of America filed court papers alleging the business “appears to be consistently operating at a significant loss” and “cannot establish a reasonable likelihood of rehabilitation within a reasonable time.”

The next day, the lender sued Irwin, the store, Meadows and others in Clark County District Court. Bank of America alleged that its loans were unpaid or in default and that The Gun Store was “insolvent” or in “imminent danger” of it.

‘PICK OVER THE SPOILS’

A federal judge in September approved the bank’s request to dismiss the bankruptcy, clearing the way for its lawsuit to move ahead. Irwin’s attorney argued that no receiver was needed, but a judge disagreed, appointing Melech in January to take charge of the store and liquidate its assets.

Irwin filed for personal bankruptcy last month, claiming some $255,000 in assets and $3.4 million in liabilities. The debts were largely business-related, he indicated to the RJ.

Irwin said he looked into merging with other gun ranges over the past year and a half but found that “friendly competitors wanted to pick over the spoils.” He also said that Meadows had been “incredibly cooperative with us” and that Bank of America wanted to show it “can grind me into the dirt.”

In a statement, Bank of America spokeswoman Colleen Haggerty said: “We want every business client to succeed. That’s why, if a company unfortunately decides they need to file bankruptcy, we dedicate a team to work with them and try to find solutions to stay in business.”

Meadows CEO Arvind Menon declined to comment, citing ongoing litigation.

Irwin’s office is in the building at 2950 E. Tropicana Ave., the one that got hit with graffiti. Melech said that 2950 is being closed and that the store’s operations are all based in 2900.

Irwin said he has no plans to open another gun shop, though as he sees it, his former business would “lose something if I’m gone completely.”

The Gun Store’s website still talks about Irwin, and on a recent visit, the property had a banner outside for his radio show.

“I’m still the face of The Gun Store,” he said.

The face, perhaps, but not the boss. And while speaking with the Review-Journal in his office last week, a creditor called, something he says happens daily.

“That’s my life now,” he said.

Contact Eli Segall at esegall@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0342. Follow @eli_segall on Twitter.

Owners of Bartolotta Fireworks file for bankruptcy, but business will continue

The president and co-owner of Bartolotta Fireworks has sought personal bankruptcy protection, and the company is becoming part of Wolverine Fireworks.

The Delafield-based fireworks business, which is not affiliated with The Bartolotta Restaurant Group in Milwaukee, says it’s still in operation and is booking shows for this year, including Milwaukee’s Summerfest.

Third-generation, family-owned Bartolotta Fireworks does hundreds of events a year in Wisconsin and elsewhere in the Upper Midwest. The business was started in 1977, but traces its roots to the 1930s when founder Sam Bartolotta developed a passion for pyrotechnics.

Tips on buying and selling a home while in the military

Compare Several Types of Mortgages

Servicemembers can qualify for a VA loan, which lets you buy a home with zero money down and no private mortgage insurance (see benefits.va.gov/homeloans for details). Interest rates on VA loans tend to be comparable to other mortgages, but fees are sometimes higher. If you have a good credit score and can make a down payment, the VA loan may not be the best deal, says Andy May, chief operating officer for AAFMAA Mortgage Services, which specializes in helping military families with a variety of types of mortgages.

“Only one in three people we work with select a VA loan when they’re presented with all of the options,” he says. Veterans with a disability rating, however, get a break on VA loan fees, usually making that their best deal. If you do get a VA loan with no down payment, recognize that if prices fall even modestly, you could wind up underwater, which means you’ll owe more than the house is worth.

Boost Your Emergency Fund

Keep extra money in a safe and accessible account that you can use to cover your mortgage, utilities and other expenses for a few months if you can’t find a new renter right away. The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act makes it easy for members of the military to get out of leases when they’re deployed or receive orders to move–which can be great when you’re the renter, but tougher when you’re the landlord and lose your tenant with little notice.