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Bad news for sword swallowers: Clark County bans street performers’ tools

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The new law even bans the generators musicians use to amplify their sound.
Corlene Byrd

Do you remember the sword swallower who decapitated the tourist? Or the street musician who electrocuted someone with his car battery? Or the costumed pirate who shot a cop to death with his plastic toy gun? Of course you don’t—those things never happened. So why is Clark Country barring street performers from using the ostensibly “dangerous” tools of their trade? A new law, passed last Tuesday, bans street performers from using generators, power cords, car batteries, inline skates, fire, blades and toy guns. (But not real guns, because that would violate their Second Amendment rights.) Musicians use generators for amplification; sword swallowers swallow blades; costumed characters use toy guns; jugglers throw flaming torches. (Penn Jillette even has a bit about how non-dangerous flaming torch juggling truly is). What’s really going on here? The county wants performers off the Strip, but because the First Amendment protects them, the commissioners are going through the law’s back door to give them the boot. Commissioner Chris Giunchigliani all but acknowledged this last week, saying, “I think this is just one more tool in our toolbox.” And so it is. But you’d hope the county could find a way to beef up its toolbox without emptying street performers’ bag of tricks.

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