Arizona shooting: Girl, nine, kills gun instructor

Video released by the Mohave County Sheriff's Department shows Charles Vacca teaching the nine-year-old shortly before the accident happened

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A nine year-old girl in the US has killed her shooting instructor by accident while being shown how to use a high-powered submachine gun.

The instructor was giving the girl a lesson at a shooting range in Arizona when the recoil from the automatic fire caused her to lose control of the Uzi.

Charles Vacca, 39, was shot in the head and died after being airlifted to a hospital in Las Vegas.

The girl was at the shooting range with her parents, who filmed the lesson.

The footage shows the instructor coaching her as she fires a single shot at a target at the Last Stop shooting range in White Hills, Arizona.

The Uzi then appears to be switched to automatic as the girl pulls the trigger and loses her grip of the weapon.

The video, edited and released by the Mohave County Sheriff's office, ends abruptly before the instructor is shot.

The website of the shooting range, called Bullets and Burgers, says children aged eight and older can shoot a weapon if they are accompanied by a parent and an instructor.

Range operator Sam Scarmardo told the Associated Press news agency the rule was industry standard but the range is reviewing its safety procedures.

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Americans react to Arizona shooting

Todd Watkins Todd Watkins

Todd Watkins, Atlanta, Georgia

I am pro-gun and I own 112 guns. I have hunting firearms and defensive firearms. I use an AR-15 for protection.

For me the issue is that this child was firing an automatic weapon. I would not have my child training with automatic weapons. Automatic firearms are harder to control.

Brianna Grocholski, Richmond, Virginia

With all of the mass killings and violence that children are regularly exposed to, I do not find it necessary to advocate for children to shoot.

Children should be preoccupied with what is important: their education. Academics is our priority and the longer our children can remain innocent, the better.

Arizona shooting: America reacts

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The facility has not had a safety accident in the 12 years it has been open, he added.

"We really don't know what happened. Our guys are trained to basically hover over people when they're shooting," he told a local broadcaster.

"If they're shooting right-handed, we have our right-hand behind them ready to push the weapon out of the way. And if they're left-handed, the same thing."

A similar incident in 2008 killed an eight-year-old boy who accidentally shot himself in the head during a gun expo in Massachusetts.

Correspondents say it is common in parts of the US for children to be taught how to use firearms.

Many firing ranges have strict safety rules on instructing children, Arizona firearms safety expert Ronald Scott told the Associated Press.

But instructors usually also have their hands on a high-powered firearm while children are firing such weapons.

"You can't give a nine-year-old an Uzi and expect her to control it," Mr Scott said.

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Uzi sub-machine gun (file photo)
Uzis
  • Submachine gun designed in 1950s for Israel's army
  • Exported to many countries and used in many conflicts
  • Capable of automatic or semi-automatic fire
  • Standard rate of fire 600 rounds per minute
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