Shall we play hide-and-seek or shoot the Uzi? You choose!

On 25 August 2014 a firearms instructor in the USA died after being shot by a nine-year-old girl wielding an Uzi. The incident took place at a shooting range in the Arizona desert. What were the girl’s parents thinking when they allowed her anywhere near this lethal weapon?

Newspaper reports say that the instructor was standing next to the girl when she pulled the trigger. The gun recoiled and it went over her head, killing the instructor. Apparently, the girl had successfully fired the 9mm weapon several times in “single-shot” mode before the setting was changed to “fully automatic”.

This double tragedy – a very young girl accidentally killing another person and the death of somebody’s son / husband / father – could have been avoided: by not letting the girl near the weapon in the first place.

UziThe Uzi is a family of Israeli open-bolt, blowback-operated submachine guns familiar from Hollywood action movies. Smaller variants are considered to be machine pistols. The Uzi was one of the first weapons to use a design that allows the magazine to be housed in the pistol grip to create a shorter weapon.

What are kids doing firing automatic weapons? What the law entitles them to do. The vast majority of US states permit children to fire guns on shooting ranges provided they are supervised by an adult (or, in stricter states, a licensed instructor). Apparently, the 9-year-old girl was at the shooting range with her parents.

Nor is this the first time that a someone has died shooting an Uzi at a firing range. In 2008, an 8-year-old boy in Massachusetts accidentally shot himself in the head when the micro Uzi he was shooting recoiled.

What were the girl’s parents thinking when they allowed her to play with anUzi? Nothing, clearly. The family was on vacation from New Jersey. Presumably, there was no Disney World nearby and firing a lethal weapon was the next best thing. Presumably, they confused an Xbox shooter game  (like the best-selling Halo 2 in which players use a combination of human and alien weaponry to progress through the game’s killing levels) with the real thing.

In response to this accidental death in Arizona, one firearms safety expert said that most shooting ranges in the USA have an age limit and strict safety rules when teaching children to shoot. “Instructors usually have their hands on guns when children are firing high-powered weapons. You can’t give a 9-year-old an Uzi and expect her to control it,” he said. Indeed you cannot.

Guns kill. This simple fact seems to escape the minds of otherwise sane people who would think twice before letting their children play with a Diamondback Rattlesnake. Will this tragic event change anything soon? You bet your life it won’t!

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