By now, you have no doubt hear about this:
A 9-year-old girl from New Jersey accidentally shot and killed her instructor with an Uzi submachine gun while he stood to her left side, trying to guide her. A video of the shooting, which her parents recorded on a cellphone, suggests that the girl, in pink shorts and with a braided ponytail, was unable to control the gun’s recoil; the instructor, Charles Vacca, 39, was rushed to a hospital in Las Vegas, where he died Monday night.
The parents turned over the cellphone video to the sheriff’s department, which released it publicly. As they spread online and on television, the images of a small girl losing control of a powerful war weapon during a family vacation created a worldwide spectacle, prompting some commentators to castigate parents who would put a submachine gun in the hands of a child.
There is a video, which I won’t post, that runs up to right before the fatal shot.
I have to agree with the criticism of the parents. I’m pro-gun. I was taken to shooting ranges as a kid and I might one day take my kids. But I would not give them a weapon like an Uzi, which is notoriously difficult to control. I would probably not give a gun to a 9-year-old and, if I did, it wouldn’t be anything more dangerous than a .22. The instructor should have known better. But at least his family is being classy and expressing their concern for the girl, who is going to have to live with this for the rest of her life.
Naturally, the gun grabbers are trying to make a lot of this. But:
Does the Arizona episode mean we live in a whacko gun culture? Those saying yes are going to remind you of a 2008 case in which an 8-year-old Massachusetts boy—under adult supervision at a gun club—accidentally shot himself in the head with an Uzi and died. Those saying no, guns are as American as apple pie, will point out, accurately, that for years, the number of accidental shootings has been declining, along with overall gun deaths. By those measures, we’re becoming a safer country, even as some parents defy common sense and put machine guns in the hands of little kids.
I think that’s something we have to keep in mind every time a tragedy like this occurs. Gun violence is down. Gun accidents are down. Almost all of the people who shoot guns recreationally do so without incident — mostly because they are smart enough not to put machine guns in the hands of children.