A 9 year-old girl goes to a Lake Havasu City “Bullets and Burgers” outdoor shooting range. She was on vacation with her family and had a “bucket list” and shooting an Uzi was on that list. What a 9 year-old was doing with a bucket list, I have no idea. Bucket lists are usually reserved for cranky but endearing old men with terminal diseases. But I digress.
So the instructor, Charles Vacca , 39, set her up and began instructing her in the finer points of Uzi shooting. The instructor and the little girl were captured on video by, I presume, her proud parents. There she is, cute as a button in her pink shorts, little pink barrettes in her hair ,which was falling in a long braid down her back. Standing next to her, bending down to help her hold the gun, is the instructor.
The first single shots go fine. Then Mr. Vacca sets the gun on automatic and the young girl, with no idea of the strength and control needed to keep the kicking gun steady, loses control and it veers up and off and puts a bullet into Mr. Vacca’s head. He dies a few hours later.
At this point in the story, the first impulse would be to laugh and say something about “gene pool.” But I kept thinking about that little girl. Thanks to her parents, she will spend the rest of her life with the ghost of Mr. Vacca, the man she killed, haunting her dreams forever.
All because her parents did not know what my parents knew and what any sensible parent knows: When children ask for dangerous, age-inappropriate things, the correct reply is a very short word that begins with the letter “N” and ends with the letter “O.”
Interestingly, the news story on this incident noted that in 2008 an 8 year-old “was firing an Uzi at a pumpkin when the recoil caused him to lose control of the weapon and he shot himself in the head.”
That’s the problem with Uzis. They were designed for adults with good hand strength that can control the recoil. And they were intended for use as a weapon of war, a small, rapid-fire automatic, a highly maneuverable weapon designed to kill as many enemy soldiers as possible in a close combat situation.
They were not designed as a toy for a child to play with as part of her bucket list. Except in America.