Nine year-olds and guns: A smart combination?

Nine year-olds and guns: A smart combination?

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MONTGOMERY VILLAGE, Md., August 28, 2014 — This week, a nine-year-old child killed her gun instructor while trying to fire an automatic weapon. Charles Vacca was killed at an Arizona firing range while he attempted to teach the child how to fire an Uzi while her father recorded the lesson.

The corporate media immediately called on their legal experts for their opinions on the incident. The opinions focused on who was liable for the death of the instructor. The laws of Arizona permit anyone over 8-years-old to fire automatic weapons under the supervision of an adult. Several other states follow the same standard.

Arizona has decided not to charge the parents of the child in this case.

Some legal experts speculate that the gun instructor would probably have signed a waiver of liability presented by the firing range where he taught. This would make the firing range exempt from civil liability, they say, though a waiver cannot exempt them from criminal liability. However, under Arizona law, there appears to have been no crime.

Legally that all sounds wonderful. It is as if no one died, no one pulled the trigger, no one was criminally negligent, and no one — except perhaps for Vacca, and he can neither sue nor be sued — had a lapse of judgment. Isn’t it nice?

Of all the reports in the media, no one asked what a 9-year-old was doing firing an automatic weapon, or why her parents consented and encouraged her to do it.

For all the reports, it seems as if this episode was less important than wedding news for the famous couple who got married that day. Did no one wonder why no one asked any questions about the need for a child to learn to fire an automatic weapon, or about a culture that appears to view the episode as unimportant?

This tragic episode brings to mind a recent commercial in which a father hands the keys to his car over to his very young son. The son soon realizes that being able to drive brings responsibilities typical of adulthood and declines the offer. In this case, the child didn’t decline and a man is dead.

Have we as a society have gone off our rockers? Has the gun culture indoctrinated us to the point that we don’t see anything wrong with allowing a child to fire an automatic weapon?

Are the only concerns the legal ones? What happened to morality? Shouldn’t big lapses in judgment have consequences?

We live in two different Americas. In one, parents agonize about letting children and teenagers own and use BB guns; in the other, parents let their kids fire Uzis. What possible reason does a parent have to let a child use a fire arm? As a toy? For self-defense? To kill innocent bystanders?

We are familiar with children’s unauthorized use of firearms and the possible consequences. Are we to also get used to this aberration of the American gun culture?


Mario Salazar, the 21st Century Pacifist, is a combat infantry veteran that has used many different types of fire arms and therefore has a respect/fear of them. He is in Twitter (@chibcharus), Facebook and Google+ (Mario Salazar).

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