Weapons: Don’t Bring Them to the Playa


There was a time (20 years ago) when participants brought guns to Burning Man. That time has passed and growth of Black Rock City and concern for everyone’s safety led organizers to ban weapons from the event. That ban continues with the 2014 event and we are again asking participants to leave their weapons at home.

Each year Burning Man negotiates a Closure Order with the Bureau of Land Management that encompasses the event site and some of the surrounding playa. You can view the Closure Order area in the image below. The Closure Order is a public announcement that the Bureau of Land Management issues in collaboration with the Burning Man organization and includes temporary restrictions to protect public safety and resources on public lands.

Staff and participants are forbidden to possess, carry or hold weapons on their person, in their camp, vehicle or dwelling in any area included in the closure order.  Anyone found with a weapon will be immediately removed from the event site.

From the Closure Order:

Weapon means a firearm, compressed gas or spring powered pistol or rifle, bow and arrow, cross bow, blowgun, spear gun, hand-thrown spear, sling shot, irritant gas device, electric stunning or immobilization device, explosive device, any implement designed to expel a projectile, switch-blade knife, any blade which is greater than 10 inches in length from the tip of the blade to the edge of the hilt or finger guard nearest the blade (e.g., swords, dirks, daggers, machetes), or any other weapon the possession of which is prohibited by state law.

“Firearm” means any pistol, revolver, rifle, shotgun, or other device which is designed to, or may be readily converted to expel a projectile by the ignition of a propellant.

Please do not threaten the future of the event – do not bring weapons to the Event Site for any reason!

You can read the entire closure order here.

For the record, pants cannons are still allowed.


55 thoughts on “Weapons: Don’t Bring Them to the Playa

  • This is my 10th Burn. Honestly, there is no reason for weapons at Burning Man. For a city with a population of >60,000 it is amazingly safe. Like any city with that level of population there are some people that are predators, it’s simple statistics. Group travel is always recommended, just like any large city. For the most part, BM is exemplary in the way people watch out for each other. The population also is largely self calibrating. There’s also no lack of Law enforcement on Playa. Oh, and for those that think guns shouldn’t exist on Playa, perhaps you might want to float that idea to law enforcement.

    In fairness, I should state that I am one of those 2nd amendment types that believes gun ownership is a right, not an entitlement. Most people fail to consider the fact that the 2nd amendment is there to protect the people from their Government should it go sour, not sanction open warfare on fellow citizens. I have a concealed carry permit. It allows me to transport my guns concealed, in my vehicle without breaking the law. I like to shoot recreationally. I go shooting with friends after the Burn in another state. It is tremendously inconvenient to try to get my guns to the other state because I have no where to secure my guns prior to going to the event. I have never brought a gun to the event and have no intentions of doing so.

    It’s amazing to me how fast the anti-gun crowd is to label gun owners as paranoid and fearful when they argue from the position of fear of guns. At the Burn, there is no reason for any weapons, pepper spray, stun guns (which by the way were not listed) or firearms. Common sense is always your best mitigation strategy.

    Unfortunately, many people that go to the Burn go with the sole idea that they can completely suspend common sense and suffer zero consequences. That’s why we, as a community, have EMS and Sanctuary. For those of you that think BM is a completely weapon free zone, consider the carnage that could be wrought through the use of say, a flame cannon or flame thrower. I saw a button one time on a Burner that said “Any tool is a weapon, if held correctly”. Pithy. Perhaps the button should have simply said, “Any Tool is a weapon”.

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  • “For the record, pants cannons are still allowed”. I’m no lawyer, but the closure order does not appear to provide an exception for underwear launchers. BMORG choosing to turn a blind eye to pants cannons is one thing, but advertising that these devices are “allowed” in contravention of an order established by a Federal Agency is a mistake. If the Feds deem the pants cannon a weapon, could they not find BMORG complicit in violating the terms of the closure order? Why take the risk?

    Even if the BLM closure order did not stipulate a weapons ban and BLC had a shooting range, I wouldn’t dare bring any of my guns because the playa would convert them into rust.

    I don’t think anyone needs to be concerned about the presence of firearms at this event. Law abiding gun owners will almost always verify restrictions (imposed by federal, state, local and private entities) pertaining to firearms before traveling, and will therefore not bring them to BLC because they are prohibited. On the other hand, you may need to be concerned about pants cannon wielding maniacs.

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  • I OWN a ranch, not too far away from BM. I’ve carried a gun almost every day of my life, for almost 35 years. It has saved my life TWICE- and my Partner’s once. What a bunch of hypocritical A-Holes. Talk, talk, talk about “Freedom”, but want to tell ME that I can’t defend me and mine???? Kiss my sweet ass! My family BUILT this COUNTRY- and MY FREEDOMS are granted by the Goddess. BLM can KMA, too….

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  • May I propose the notion that those of you who are quick to call gun owners nuts have
    never fired a gun? Politics and The Constitution aside, shooting is fun. It speaks to something primordial in us. Perhaps it’s the latent caveman, but it’s indescribably satisfying to see an object off in the distance and actually be able to hit it. We did it then with rocks and sticks, we do it better now with guns.

    Omagod, guns are dangerous and violent–and they’re so loud! Well folks, the most lethal weapon at my disposal is the automobile but I don’t hear anyone calling me a car nut because I like to drive.

    So the BLM acts with Burning Man to trump state law for a few days? Kinda speaks to the power of money–but hey, I don’t have the time or inclination to hire a constitutional lawyer to run this one up the ladder. I just wanna burn.

    Would it be that unreasonable therefore to offer a leave-your-hardware-at-the-door policy and have a hat-check girl/boy tag and secure everything and then return it when the burn is done?

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