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Shooting Instructor Dies After Nine Year-Old Student Loses Control of Weapon

At a shooting range, a nine year-old girl (who has thankfully not been named) lost control of the Uzi she had been given and her instructor, 39 year-old Charles Vacca, was shot. According to the Associated Press, Vacca “died Monday shortly after being airlifted to University Medical Center in Las Vegas, Mohave County sheriff’s officials said.” The outdoor shooting range, the morbidly congruously-named “Last Stop,” has refused to comment on the incident.

If the internet comments for the video and other news stories are any indication, this is going to be another tragic story involving accidental death that serves only as the center of a debate about gun control that has been stuck in loop for more than a decade. Explaining their philosophy about guns simply by pointing to a scene of human tragedy and barking, “See what happens?

If this story doesn’t fade from the headlines quickly – and I, for one, hope it does – eventually the parents of this little girl will either have to come forward to “defend” their actions or come forward as new converts to the idea of gun control. Either option, however, will shine a brighter spotlight on an innocent child whose life has forever changed for the worse.

Like any other victim of childhood trauma, this young girl will presumably be haunted by a violent, tragic event that was not her fault. The recoil on the weapon she was firing is such that grown adults have trouble controlling it. This girl neither deserves nor should be made a part of the viral news machine.

The issues at-hand – instructing children in the safe use of firearms and gun control vis-à-vis automatic weapons – can be discussed without parsing this specific incident and blaming the girl, her parents, or even Vacca himself.

If a family has guns in the house, children should absolutely be given instruction in their use and how to be safe around them. Yet, there are specially-designed weapons for children to use and other weapons – such as large-caliber pistols, rifles, or some shotguns – should not be put in their hands loaded. Someone who has just learned how to ride a bicycle should not be expected to immediately jump on a racing motorcycle and be able to handle it.



Photo by Laineema via Flickr

About the author

Joshua M. Patton is a father, veteran, and writer living in Pittsburgh, PA. Along with news and current events, he writes about parenting, art, and personal stories. His serial fiction story "The Prophet Hustle" is available at JukePop.com and a forthcoming independent ebook about the cam-modeling industry "Dirty Little Windows" will be available later this summer.