Fatal shooting range accident in Arizona raises questions

Published: .
Updated: .

A tragic accident in Arizona is raising new questions tied to the raging debate on guns in the United States.

An instructor was trying to teach a nine-year-old girl how to use an automatic weapon, but the kickback on it was too much for her to handle. She lost control and ended up shooting and killing the instructor.

"We have to keep that held in. Otherwise the gun won't fire, okay?" Charles Vacca's last moments are captured on video. He's instructing a nine-year-old student on how to fire an Uzi, which is a submachine gun.

"All right, go ahead and give me one shot," he said.

The young student successfully fires the weapon while it is set to single-shot mode. But when Vacca sets the Uzi to fully-automatic, the student cannot control the recoil, and Vacca is struck in the head by at least one of the multiple rounds fired.

Vacca was airlifted to a Las Vegas area hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

The incident occurred Monday at the "Bullets and Burgers" shooting range in White Hills, Zrizona.

The range's website lists its minimum age as eight years, and that all minors 8 to 17 must be accompanied by an adult at all times. The girl involved was with her parents at the time of the shooting.

But many question why, even with supervision, a nine-year old girl should be handling a fully-automatic weapon at all.

"I think it's an incredibly irresponsible decision, and it's another one of these decisions where we treat guns differently than anything else in this country that's dangerous. We refuse to acknowledge that these are dangerous weapons that kill people," said Cliff Schecter, columnist for The Daily Beast.

"From what I understand of this incident, it is extremely unusual. I've been at this now for 40 years and I've never heard of any of this happening," said Bob Irwin, gun store owner.

Sheriff Jim McCabe in Mojave County, Arizona has stated no charges will be filed in the incident. both the range and the deceased instructor had clean safety records prior to Monday's shooting.