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.