GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – It’s a shocking tragedy that’s made headlines around the country: a nine-year-old girl accidentally shooting and killing a weapons instructor at a gun range in Arizona on Monday.
The weapon the girl was using – and other circumstances surrounding the accidental death of 39-year-old Charles Vacca – are stirring up controversy.
It happened while Vacca was showing the girl how to shoot an Uzi submachine gun. She and her family visited the range from New Jersey. The tragic accident was caught on video.
An investigation into the incident has been completed — and there won’t be any charges filed. Vacca’s death is being considered an “industrial accident.” OSHA and the ATF are both looking into it.
Even weapon experts are asking why a nine-year-old girl was using an Uzi in any situation, including Gregg Glasco, manager of Barracks 616 in Grand Rapids.
“On a fully automatic weapon – like she was shooting – once you squeeze the trigger, the gun tends to just keep sawing its way up if you’re not physically strong enough to hold it down,” Glasco said.
Investigators say the nine-year-old lost control, shooting Vacca in the head.
Glasco says the child should never have been handling the automatic weapon.
“An Uzi was made by the Israelis,” he says. “It’s a very durable gun made for desert warfare.”
The submachine gun is capable of firing 900 rounds a minute.
Glasco says there’s a gun for everybody – and smaller children should shoot smaller guns with smaller bullets.
Children as young as 10 shoot at Barracks 616, but never a weapon that powerful. That’s something gun advocates – and those pushing for stricter gun laws – seem to agree on.
“That was stupid, foolish. Too much weapon, too little of child, no experience,” Glasco says.
A tragedy stirring up the gun debate – and serving as a warning to parents making that personal decision whether or not to let their child shoot a gun.
“It’s hard for an average guy who’s in boot camp to get his Army-issued automatic weapon and keep it on target,” Glasco says. “It takes a lot of training to keep that muzzle flat.”
“Giving it to a nine-year-old is ridiculous.”