Thursday, August 28, 2014

Kids, Guns, Arizona

You may or may not have heard about the incident on a shooting range in Arizona. A nine-year-old girl was being allowed to fire a mini-Uzi. She lost control of the weapon and ended up shooting her instructor in the head.

Both gun control advocates and responsible gun owners have spoken out about this. (Gun rights idiots have, of course, pointed out that the range wasn't breaking any laws).

Well, no. Only the law of common sense.

A nine-year-old girl is a pretty small person, in general. Automatic weapons - and she was firing the weapon on full auto - do this thing called "climbing." where the barrel tends to drift upwards. (Another interpretation of the situation was that the stock was not secure against her shoulder, slipped, and she squeezed the trigger again trying not to drop the gun - something which has got inexperienced shooters killed before).

The range was the World Famous Arizona Last Stop, a roadside attraction on US 93 in Arizona. It offered a designer, a cafe, an RV park...and the opportunity to shoot a machine gun.

This wasn't a professional training range. It was a tourist trap where people off the street, including children as young as eight, could get the experience of playing with an automatic weapon. I attempted to load a website that might have had more information, but it appears to be down. The range itself is "closed indefinitely."

I'm not a gun control freak - it's one way in which I diverge from most liberals. I have nothing against the responsible use and ownership of firearms.

But...the gun owners I've talked to about this all unite on one point.

Nine year olds are not physically or mentally ready to shoot fully automatic weapons. To be blunt, they are simply too small to handle the recoil and may not quite understand how deadly what they have in their hands is - a lesson one little girl learned in the most traumatic way possible.

Children should not be shooting machine guns. If you want to teach your kid to shoot, give them a .22 targeting pistol or a properly designed youth gun. Not a mini-Uzi.

And in my opinion a place that bills itself as a chance for untrained people to play with machine guns was an accident waiting to happen.

The Sheriff's Office is pursuing no charges - presumably having decided that the party responsible for the accident was the dead instructor. But some responsibility has to fall on his employers. This wasn't a case where the client begged for the chance to try - it was their entire business model. And maybe even a little bit on the parents, who might have been able to see (might) that this wasn't a good idea. Legal does not mean smart or safe.

I compare this incident to putting a nine-year-old girl on a fully race-fit Thoroughbred. Adults are responsible for not letting children handle things they simply don't have the body mass or skill to control.