Video: Range Instructor Shot, Killed by Nine-Year-Old Girl
Russ Chastain 08.28.14
This story is heartbreaking, and I wish I didn’t have to tell it.
Earlier this week, at a tourist attraction boasting fully automatic firearms, a shooting instructor was fatally shot by one of his students as reported in an AP story.
The student was only nine years old, and the gun was a full-auto Uzi.
The range is known as Bullets and Burgers, located at a “tourist headquarters” called Arizona Last Stop (ALP). At press time, the ALP website still prompted visitors to “Shoot a Machine Gun @ Arizona Last Stop,” but the range has been closed indefinitely since the incident. The Bullets and Burgers website is currently not loading; its servers may be overwhelmed.
The range offers the experience of shooting fully automatic guns to just about anyone with the money to pay for it. The girl’s parents reportedly signed waivers and were standing close by recording video when the shooting took place. The range’s minimum age for shooting is 8 years old, which I think is acceptable–within reason.
And to me, reason does not include allowing a child to fire a fully automatic firearm without some kind of support, especially a small submachine gun like the Uzi, which can be difficult for a grown man to control.
As a teen, I watched a full-grown, healthy adult man fire a fully automatic Ingram Mac-11 (similar to an Uzi). He owned the gun and had experience with automatic weapons, but in just one short burst the little gun climbed quite high, above the target. It was clear that he was unable to control the little gun, and he was holding onto the strap, pulling downward to fight the climb. I have since fired similar guns, and they are not easy to control, even for experienced adult male shooters.
Common sense should have prevented any firearms instructor from allowing a little girl to fire the gun on full auto without additional support. Examples include keeping the instructor’s hand on the gun to help hold it down to prevent the muzzle from climbing. This is common practice when people–adults included–are learning to shoot full-auto guns.
In the video, the instructor placed both of the girl’s hands on the gun (he had one of his up there as well, but it was merely supporting the gun because the young girl was too weak to even hold it up, much less control it while firing). He should have been holding onto the gun for the purpose of keeping its muzzle down. He also should have only loaded two or three rounds in the magazine.
This is hindsight when I say it, but for an instructor at a range offering full-auto firing, it should have been everyday practice.
There’s no sense throwing stones here. What’s done is done. My heart breaks for the little girl, who had to see such horror. It breaks for the family of late firearms instructor Charles Vacca, age 39. And it even breaks a little bit for the negative publicity this will give to guns and shooting.
But mostly, I feel bad for the girl. And knowing how close she came to accidentally shooting herself when that muzzle climbed, I’m thankful that she’s still alive.
Let’s be careful out there, folks.