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Shooting of Charles Vacca
Shooting of Charles Vacca
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Shooting of Charles Vacca
Date August 25, 2014
Location White Hills, Arizona, United States
On August 25, 2014, 39-year-old Charles Vacca was accidentally shot and killed while instructing a nine-year-old girl in how to shoot a Mini-Uzi. The accident occurred at the Arizona Last Stop Gun Range (also known as "Bullets and Burgers") in White Hills, Arizona, where Vacca had worked for about 18 months. According to county law officials the shooting is being viewed as an industrial accident. The minimum age set by the shooting range to fire a weapon is eight years old provided that the child is supervised by a parent, as the girl was. It was also legal for Arizona Last Stop to own the fully automatic Uzi because it was manufactured and purchased prior to the passage of the Firearm Owners Protection Act in 1986 and added to the National Firearms Act machine gun registry where all fully automatic civilian owned firearms are registered.
1 Sequence of events
2.1 Vacca's family members
2.2 The girl's family members
2.3 Legislators 3 Investigations 4 References
Sequence of events
According to the girl's father, their family had traveled from their Las Vegas hotel to the Last Stop at approximately 9:45 AM. The family then took a ride on a monster truck before arriving at the gun range. At the range, the girl's father was the first to shoot, followed by the girl herself. The girl's mother videotaped her daughter trying out the Uzi, and said she watched as the gun recoiled and her daughter lost control of it. The girl reportedly said the Uzi was "too much" for her after she fired the weapon and was unable to control the muzzle rise, causing the barrel to be directed at Vacca. Vacca is believed to have died from a single shot to the head. He was airlifted to the University Medical Center hospital in Las Vegas, where he died.
The shooting ignited a discussion regarding whether children should be legally allowed to handle fully automatic weapons such as Uzis. Mel Robbins, writing for CNN, argued that it should be against the law for such a young child to shoot an Uzi. She added that, in her view, the girl was not to blame for her instructor's death, but that the instructor and the girl's parents were at fault. The owner of Last Stop, Sam Scarmardo, said it was considered pretty standard to allow children onto the range, and that he was reconsidering this policy in light of the accident. Writing for , Robert B. Young wrote that only one other incident had occurred in which a child killed someone with an automatic weapon, and therefore concluded that "two incidents in six years do not an epidemic make, not even a trend." He also concluded that as gun ownership increased, the frequency of serious gun accidents involving children had decreased, attributing this to "improved education for young people becoming acquainted with firearms".
Vacca's family members
Vacca's family, including his ex-wife, Anamarie Vacca, have said they harbor no ill will toward the girl who accidentally killed Charles Vacca. Anamarie Vacca also said that her children want to write a letter to the girl, "knowing their family has to grieve through the same process." In an interview aired on on August 29, Vacca's daughter Ashley said that her father's death was a "tragic accident" and expressed her sympathy for the girl and her family. On September 12, Vacca's four children wrote a letter to the girl, in which they said that "Our dad would want you to know that you should move forward with your life."
On the first anniversary of the shooting, Charles Vacca's children launched the “We Have A Voice” initiative, which is an online petition aimed at building a coalition to support and pass legislation that prohibits young children from using fully automatic weapons.
The girl's family members
Members of the family of the girl who shot Vacca released a statement on September 2 saying they were "devastated" by the accident. The family's lawyer, Kevin Walsh, stated that the family "prayed day and night that [Vacca] would survive his injury, and they continue to pray for his family during this terribly difficult time."
In response to the shooting, Victoria Steele, a Democratic member of the Arizona House of Representatives, proposed a ban on allowing children under the age of 16 to use machine guns. Steele told the that "I'm disgusted that we even need such a law -- that parents can't be trusted to not give a machine gun to a 9-year-old girl." In addition, on September 4, 2014, Democratic senators Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein wrote a letter to the president of the National Shooting Sports Foundation urging him to help implement policies prohibiting children from shooting fully automatic weapons at shooting ranges. In February 2015, the Arizona Division of Occupational Safety and Health recommended that a range-safety officer should be on site at the shooting range where Vacca was shot. They also recommended limiting weapons available to certain shooters and ensuring shooters are comfortable with weapons before they are switched into automatic. In March 2015, Barbara Norton, a Democratic member of the Louisiana House of Representatives, introduced a bill to prohibit children under the age of twelve from using Uzis.
Watch 9-year-old girl accidentally kills gun instructor with Uzi and other Investigations videos on Police1
9-year-old girl accidentally kills gun instructor with Uzi
Aug 27, 2014
Instructor was standing next to the girl when she pulled the trigger and the recoil sent the gun over her head.Improve the safety and effectiveness of your agency and officers with an online training solution from PoliceOne Academy. Access more than 1,500 courses and videos with reports to help you monitor and track training completion, compliance and license renewal. With PoliceOne Academy, training can be delivered during in-service, field training or in a self-paced format. SCHEDULE A FREE DEMO NOW!
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A 9-year-old girl firing a submachine gun accidentally killed her instructor at a shooting range when the weapon recoiled, authorities said.
Child firing Uzi at Ariz. shooting range accidentally kills instructor, police say
By Steve Almasy, AnneClaire Stapleton and Ray Sanchez, CNN
Updated 1439 GMT (2239 HKT) August 28, 2014
Girl, 9, kills instructor in Uzi accident 03:40
Experts question whether girl should have been handling a submachine gun
Charles Vacca died Monday night after he was accidentally shot in the head
Police said he was showing a 9-year-old girl how to shoot an Uzi
Vacca was a military veteran, CNN affiliate reports
A shooting instructor is dead, the victim of a gun-range accident. A 9-year-old girl is surely traumatized. And plenty of people, including many gun enthusiasts, are asking: Why give a child a submachine gun to shoot?
The deadly incident occurred Monday morning at a gun range in Arizona that caters to Las Vegas tourists, many of whom drive an hour from the gambling center to fire high-powered weapons.
Charles Vacca was accidentally shot in the head as he instructed the 9-year-old girl how to fire an Uzi, an Israeli-made 9mm submachine gun. As she pulled the trigger, the gun jumped out of her left hand toward Vacca, who was standing beside her.
"To put an Uzi in the hands of a 9-year-old ... is extremely reckless, " CNN law enforcement analyst Tom Fuentes said.
Gun experts contacted by CNN on Wednesday said young children should be taught to shoot with single-shot firearms rather than submachine guns.
They also said that safe learning is connected to the ability and experience of the instructor.
"It's always the supervision," said Greg Danas, president of Massachusetts-based G&G Firearms. "But you also have gun enthusiasts running businesses where they place firearms in the hands of the uninformed, whether they're 9-year-old kids who are not capable or adults. It all stems from gun enthusiasts running businesses that require a level of professionalism and education. The unexpected with firearms is something that's only learned through years of being a trainer, not a gun enthusiast."
Girl, 9, kills gun instructor with Uzi 01:24
Representatives of the gun range declined CNN requests for comment on the incident. But Sam Scarmardo, who operates Bullets and Burgers, told CNN affiliate KLAS on Tuesday they "really don't know what happened."
"Our guys are trained to basically hover over people when they're shooting," Scarmardo said. "If they're shooting right-handed, we have our right-hand behind them ready to push the weapon out of the way. And if they're left-handed, the same thing."
Vacca had his right hand on the girl's back and his left hand under her right arm when he was shot.
Opinion: Why is a 9-year-old firing an Uzi?
Danas questioned why the instructor in Arizona was standing immediately to the left of the Uzi, which would have recoiled in that direction.
"It's an awful shame," he said. "He shouldn't have been to the left side of the gun... But that child should not have been shooting anything other than a single-shot firearm."
Danas, whose daughters are 11 and 13, said his girls learned to shoot when they were 4 years old, with a single-shot, .22-caliber pistol.
Fuentes, who was a firearms instructor while he was with the FBI, said students are taught to fire in three-round bursts.
It's not like in the movies where somebody shoots 30 rounds nonstop, he said. "You're going to lose control."The wrong gun?
Greg Block, who runs California-based Self-Defense Firearms Training, said not only was the Uzi the wrong gun to use -- "That's not a kid's gun" -- but that instructors should stand to the rear and to the right of the shooter.
"He was literally in the line of fire," Block said of the instructor. "He did pretty much everything wrong, and I don't like saying that because it cost the man his life."
Steven Howard, a Michigan-based gun expert who runs American Firearms & Munitions Consulting, said it was difficult to comment based on the limited information available about the Arizona shooting, but added that the clip on the submachine gun should not hold more than three rounds during instruction.
"Teaching people machine gun 101, even with adults, even with people going through military training, the first few times they shoot machine guns you don't have them shoot a full freaking clip," he said. "The thing begins to fire and it begins to jump and buck all over the place. Your first human instinct is for your hands to clamp down, and you clamp down on the trigger and if the thing has a 32-round magazine ... it starts spraying all over and people get killed."
Some Uzi submachine guns can be modified to control the powerful recoil.
Howard said some submachine guns can be used to train children.
"It can be done under the right circumstances," Howard said. "There are some machine guns that I could have trained my 8-year-old on."
The website of Bullets and Burgers, the shooting range where the accident happened, says children between the ages of 8 and 17 can shoot a weapon if accompanied by a parent or guardian.