Nine-Year-Olds And Uzis Don’t Mix

by Dish Staff


Dish alum Katie Zavadski brings us up to speed on a tragic story:

A young girl sporting pink shorts and a long braid fatally shot her gun instructor on Monday, after the weapon she was firing recoiled in her hands. Charles Vacca, 39, died at a Las Vegas hospital that night. The 9-year-old child, whose name has not been released, was on vacation with her parents when they stopped by a gun range. The range allows children as young as 8 to shoot weapons, provided that they are accompanied by an adult.

Charles Cooke, no enemy of the second amendment, observes that normally “smaller people — especially children — are restricted to smaller weapons that are commensurate with their size”:

When American children used to go to school with a rifle slung over their back, it was almost certainly a low-powered .22. There weren’t many Tommy Guns in American classrooms. An Uzi, on the other hand, seems to be the worst of both worlds – especially when it is chambered in a larger caliber. Because their recoil tends to push the weapon upwards, handguns are inherently more difficult for young people to control. This is especially so when they keep firing upon a single trigger pull. Frankly, it is difficult to imagine a gun less suited to a small girl.

Paul M. Barrett joins the conversation:

Does the Arizona episode mean we live in a whacko gun culture? Those saying yes are going to remind you of a 2008 case in which an 8-year-old Massachusetts boy—under adult supervision at a gun club—accidentally shot himself in the head with an Uzi and died. Those saying no, guns are as American as apple pie, will point out, accurately, that for years, the number of accidental shootings has been declining, along with overall gun deaths. By those measures, we’re becoming a safer country, even as some parents defy common sense and put machine guns in the hands of little kids.

The range in question is now considering (yes, merely considering) a height requirement:

Arizona has no age restrictions on firing guns, and Scarmardo’s Last Stop shooting range typically allows kids 8 and older to fire its array of automatic weapons. “It is pretty standard in the industry to let children shoot on the range,” the owner told the Times. “We are working with the Mohave County Sheriff’s Office, and we’ll make a decision if we’ll make any changes after we review all the facts.” The Guardian reports that children are temporarily barred from shooting during the investigation.

(Screenshot from a video released by the police “of shooting instructor Charles Vacca, of Lake Havasu City, moments before he was accidentally shot by a 9-year-old girl he was teaching.”)