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9-Year-Old Shoots Instructor

A 9-Year-Old's Gun Lesson Ends Tragically

An accident in Arizona has left one man dead and one young girl completely traumatized. During a shooting lesson at Bullets and Burgers gun range in White Hills, a 9-year-old accidentally shot her instructor, Charles Vacca, in the head. The instructor was teaching the girl how to use an automatic Uzi when she lost control of the firearm. Vacca, 39, was airlifted to University Medical Center in Las Vegas for treatment, but doctors were unable to save him.

Bullets and Burgers owner Sam Scarmardo says he doesn't understand how the situation escalated, given Vacca's training. "We really don't know what happened," he told a local news outlet. "Our guys are trained to basically hover over people when they're shooting." He adds that instructors are also trained to push weapons out of the students' hands if things go awry.

Prior to the incident, you had to be 8 years of age or older to shoot at Bullets and Burgers. But Scarmardo has since changed the rules, requiring shooters to be at least 12 years old or stand at least 5 feet tall.

Image Source: YouTube user bnonews
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AmyGriffin45682 AmyGriffin45682 2 years

Ok, I'm going to play dumb here. Do you think all parents know what an Uzi is? Do you know if these parents knew anything about guns? Not all parents are as smart as you are, or know all about guns like you do. I still stand by my earlier comment; it is NOT just the responsibility of the parents! If they did not know about guns or Uzis then it should have been up to the instructor to inform them of the dangers of such a young girl unfamiliar with an Uzi. It is also the responsibility of the shooting range for allowing children that young to handle such weapons.
Before you blast me for not knowing what I am talking about, I was in the military. My husband and I own guns and rifles. I know some can have a stronger recoil than others.

shawnnlively73341 shawnnlively73341 2 years

Had the parents exercised their own common sense, they wouldn't have had the kid paired with an Uzi. They'd have chosen a more age appropriate firearm. They were NOT responsible parents. The instructor (again, yes, to blame) paid with his life. They need to pay with rescinding their rights to their children, as they've demonstrated that they cannot make appropriate decisions.

shawnnlively73341 shawnnlively73341 2 years

A parent who is aware of safety around guns will safely and responsibly train their children to be safe and responsible.

Tourists, who think it's 'fun' or an 'adventure' to do something they wouldn't normally do were the cause of this.

shawnnlively73341 shawnnlively73341 2 years

dropping your blowdryer was an accident. These parents CHOSE to hand their 9 yo an inappropriate firearm, because they thought it would be 'fun' or 'cute' to get a pic. They have exceptionally poor judgement, and should not be allowed to parent, because they knowingly exposed their child to a potentially deadly situation.

The instructor paid with his life. Sorry to hear that, but the second lapse in judgement was his, for continuing to allow the fiasco to move forward. Had he exerted his authority as the 'expert', and not allowed the girl to fire the weapon, he would be alive, she would not be traumatized.

In your case, you had a klutz moment and fumbled your hairdryer. In their cases, it was a moment of extreme stupidity, and decisions were made while knowing that the actions could result in death.

No comparison. You shouldn't have been taken to task for what happened in your case, as it truly WAS accidental.

shawnnlively73341 shawnnlively73341 2 years

You did NOT see, I take it, the point that the fault lies with the PARENTS first & foremost, and the INSTRUCTOR second. Well, the instructor died from his lack of attention and improper authorization of a 9 YO using the Uzi...what punishments are the parents facing for their lack of attention and common sense?

shawnnlively73341 shawnnlively73341 2 years

There is absolutely nothing wrong with any parent with proper gun safety in mind teaching their children, male OR female, how to safely use a firearm.

What IS wrong here is that the gun range didn't have a better policy in place, and in this particular case, the child's parents were quite obviously ignorant of proper gun safety to begin with.

Don't make this about all owners of firearms. Point the finger where the blame belongs: With the parents who thought it was 'cute' to have their 9YO handle a semi-auto with auto function weapon, and with the secondary blame falling directly on the instructor for allowing them to do so. He died for his mistake, what are the parents doing for their share of the punishment? Have their children been removed, as they are obviously incapable of making an intelligent decision?

FYI, my kids have been safely handling appropriate firearms since they were 6. Would I let them shoot an Uzi? Sure, once they're over the ageof 21...


This was purely an accident. My heart goes out to this little girl. She probably wasn't very big, so the changes in the store's policies were needed. I think what bothers me the most is that she was shooting an uzi. When I was a girl it was shotguns or rifles for hunting. What or who got her interested in uzis? Her dad, violent video guns? What's next tanks and grenades? I've always shot guns since my grandfather taught me as a little girl. I just don't understand this shift to heavy artillery.

AmyGriffin45682 AmyGriffin45682 2 years

After reading most of the comments, I have to add my two cents worth. It seems everyone wants to blame the parents for putting their daughter in this situation. I don't understand why all the blame is going on them! Okay, they should not have let her shoot an Uzi at 9 years old, I get that, because I never would have allowed it. I was in the military, I have a CCW, and we own several weapons. What about the shooting range that allowed children that young to handle weapons with such recoils? What about the instructor? Why did he agree to it? Why was he standing next to her instead of behind her? There are just too many "what if's" to say it was just the parents fault for this. I think it's time to let it go, let the little girl get the help she needs to deal with this whole unpleasant situation, and her parents. Let the family of the victim get some peace over this whole thing so they can get on with their lives, and lets get on with ours!

koreena1384584927 koreena1384584927 2 years

I personally would rather die a good innocent person than kill people, if people try take over my country i wont go around killing people even if guns were legal, look at our crime rate compared to america? How many people die everyday there at the hands of a gun compared to here. Add all those killings together and your at at war against each other. I can walk down the street even in a poor area and i feel safe. Can you? Or do you carry a gun?

koreena1384584927 koreena1384584927 2 years

I feel like, if i were the parents in this situation, i would already be feeling extremely guilty and concern about the child involved, people need to be more supportive and stop knocking each other down! I was blow drying my hair a few months ago and dropped it on my sons foot and i felt horrible and had people saying "why were you drying your hair around him" etc. accidents happen, sometimes we realise our mistakes before anyone is affected and sometimes we dont.

AmyGriffin45682 AmyGriffin45682 2 years

As I stated before, it was not just the parents. It was the shooting range and the instructor himself. I wish everyone would quit blaming just the parents!

AmyGriffin45682 AmyGriffin45682 2 years

In today's society, it might be better to teach children the proper way to handle and shoot guns if they need to for protection. There are so many accidental shootings from young ones finding guns and playing with them because they don't know the dangers. Personally, I think it would be good for all children to at least go through a safety course so they know what to do with one if they ever came across one.Do you know if your children's friends' parents have guns and/or have them locked up? Wouldn't it be better to know your children can be safe if they ever found one? I know I would.

AmyGriffin45682 AmyGriffin45682 2 years

I agree with your question, "Who are you to say her life is ruined?" My husband and I have talked about this as he is big into guns. We feel there are two drastics in this case; one what you suggest, that she learn from this experience and maybe learn the proper way to handle a good and be very good at it; or be withdrawn and scared to death of ever seeing or being around a gun again.
I would also say, it was not just her parents. Okay, maybe they used poor judgement in allowing her to shoot the Uzi, but why did the shooting range allow children that young shoot them? Why did the instructor agree to teach her? There are too many variables to point fingers at just one.

AmyGriffin45682 AmyGriffin45682 2 years

The instructor was also at fault. He should not have been standing next to her, he should have been behind her. This would have been a safer place for him. I feel sorry for the little girl, but there are too many variables to blame just one or two.

AmyGriffin45682 AmyGriffin45682 2 years

I don't think it is just the parents. They should not have allowed it but the instructor should not have agreed to it, either. As the instructor, he should have known the recoil would have been too much for a young girl to handle.

AmyGriffin45682 AmyGriffin45682 2 years

In your first sentence you said a car and an Uzi are "both deadly." I would disagree with that. If the car is sitting there, is it deadly? If the Uzi is sitting on the table, is it deadly? It is not the car or the Uzi, it is the intention of the individual behind it, or, in this case, the inability of the person to handle it.
Later you stated guns don't kill people, people do. Exactly my point, with cars also. They only become deadly with an operator behind them.

AmyGriffin45682 AmyGriffin45682 2 years

I think the key word you used here is "mature." My husband would work with our grandchildren, teaching them gun safety and the proper way to handle and shoot a gun. It all depended on how mature they were. One grandson started out very young because he listened to Papa and did exactly what he was told on how to handle the weapons properly. Another grandson is 9 and Papa still will not work with him because he wants to do his own thing and not listen to or follow directions. We also have a 4-year-old granddaughter that he works with at times, depending on how she is acting. Sometimes she will listen to him and follow his directions, and other times, like when she is tired, she will not.

mnwatson1 mnwatson1 2 years

Activities don't cause "psychological messes," the parents do. How they treat their children ultimately decides that. While I agree that children shouldn't be expected to be mini-adults, there are plenty of children who ARE interested in guns and activities such as hunting, and there is absolutely nothing "abnormal" about that. All kids should be taught proper firearms safety, so that when and if they come across a gun, they are aware of how to NOT accidentally discharge it or end up causing a tragic accident.

I do agree however, that an Uzi had no place in this entire outing for this family.

mnwatson1 mnwatson1 2 years

There's nothing wrong with her learning how to safely handle a gun, or shoot one, in fact, if more parents did with their children, there would likely be fewer gun incidents involving children. The mistake that was made here was the type of gun she was allowed to handle. Had it been a semi-automatic pistol or a rifle, this would have never happened.

The type of ignorant thinking that you displayed only underscores the need for better firearms education, especially for kids. Parents who refuse to expose their children to guns or teach them about actual gun safety (and no, I don't mean "Don't touch them! They kill people!") are the ones at the highest risk of either having a child accidentally shoot themselves or someone else if they do come across a gun somewhere, simply because their parents failed to educate them.

mnwatson1 mnwatson1 2 years

Not confused at all, though from your post I would say you're fairly unfamiliar with guns in general.

An Uzi is an automatic weapon, and they tend to (as far as I am aware) recoil much more dramatically (due to the rapid firing) than most guns. Typically, it WOULD be considered pretty safe for a child of 9 to be taught how to properly handle a gun, ASSUMING that the gun was one that was either a single-shot gun, or a semi-automatic gun, so that the child has the chance to feel the recoil before shooting a second time. In this case, it appears that common sense lapsed, and the child was given an automatic weapon, which even some adults can have trouble with, to shoot.

I have no problem with parents teaching their children about guns and gun safety. This was neither, really. An Uzi is not a safe choice of gun to have a child fire, regardless. I, as an adult, would hesitate to do so, simply because of the recoil.

I would suggest that you consider looking into actual gun safety, maybe actually shoot a real gun or two, to learn what recoil actually is, how it feels, and then judge how appropriate it would be for a 9 year old to handle an Uzi. It wasn't the gun's fault, it was the parents' and the instructor's fault for letting the girl have that particular gun to try shooting.

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