The Corner

Don’t Give Nine-Year-Old Girls Automatic Weapons

Per the Las Vegas Review-Journal, horrific news from Arizona:

An instructor who was shot by a 9-year-old girl who fired an Uzi at a northwestern Arizona shooting range died Monday night at University Medical Center in Las Vegas.

The girl fired the weapon at the outdoor range that caters to heavy tourism traffic along U.S. Highway 93 between Las Vegas and the Grand Canyon Skywalk.

The girl seems to have lost control of the weapon:

He said the girl safely and successfully fired the 9 mm weapon several times when it was set in the “single-shot” mode.

He said the weapon was put into the “fully-automatic” mode before the girl fired again with the instructor standing off to her left. The weapon recoiled and drifted left as the girl squeezed off an undetermined number of rounds as she maintained possession but lost control of the Uzi as it raised up above her head.

“The guy just dropped,” McCabe said of shooting instructor Charles Vacca, 39, of Lake Havasu City, who suffered at least one gunshot to the head.

It’s easy to play armchair expert, I accept. But this strikes me as having been a terrible idea from start to finish. As a general rule, smaller people — especially children — are restricted to smaller weapons that are commensurate with their size. At my range, kids who are being taught to shoot are not only limited to .22LR ammunition but also to long guns that they can get their shoulder behind. That way, if the gun pushes back, it hits something solid. This may cause bruising, sure. But it’s unlikely to be dropped or to fly upwards — or, heaven forbid, to kill somebody. 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. Contra the Piers Morgans of the world, I don’t think it tells us too much about the law, nor do I think it’s that relevant to the question of firearms in the United States. But it does suggest gross negligence on the behalf of the range, the instructor, and the parents. I’m all for teaching children about firearms at a young age. But there is a good way to do this and a bad way to do this. We shouldn’t be giving nine-year-old girls automatic weapons.

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