By: Roshaunda Coleman
On Aug. 25 a 9-year-old girl accidentally shot and killed 39-year-old gun range instructor Charles Vacca at Arizona gun range Bullet and Burgers. After Vacca showed the young girl how to use an Uzi, submachine gun he stood to her left. Once the girl took the shot, the gun recoiled and she lost control of the weapon, resulting in the accidental killing of Charles Vacca.
After this horrifying scenario, many questions have been stirred up about gun regulations. The question that seems to be asked the most is, why are children allowed to come in contact with guns, especially those as dangerous as an Uzi?
Richard Turner, vice president of sales and marketing for Umarex USA, told the magazine Guns & Ammo in 2012 that, “shooting is economical recreation with a ton of fun thrown in.” Although many may agree with Turner’s statement, this type of “fun” needs to have much stricter rules and regulations put into place to keep tragedies such as that of Charles Vacca to a minimum.
According to the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, out of all 50 states, 31 states do not have an age limit for the possession of a long gun.
Some may say that this statistic is irrelevant because an Uzi is classified as a submachine gun, but keep in mind that even an Uzi can be classified as either a handgun or a long gun depending upon the model and any possible modifications made to the gun. That means that depending on how the gun may be altered, 31 states in the U.S. would allow a young child to be in possession of such a dangerous weapon.
Along with that, a minor, sometimes as young as seven years old, is allowed to indulge in the “fun” of the shooting range as long as they are accompanied by an adult. In many cases adult supervision is a good enough reason to allow a minor to engage in certain activities due to the assumption that the adult is fully aware of any possible risks that may be attached to that particular activity. But decisions on whether or not a child, who can barely hold up the weapon, should be allowed to use it in a shooting range or elsewhere should be left fully up to the federal government.
Accidental gun deaths make up a significant amount of total gun deaths in the U.S. As a way of prevention, 29 states have adopted child access prevention (CAP) laws, which impose criminal liability on adults who give children unsupervised access to firearms.
Only 14 of those states prohibit anyone from “intentionally, knowingly, and/or recklessly providing some or all firearms to children,” according to the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, but that is just not enough. Children should not be allowed to handle nor possess any form of firearms under the federal law.
Many would fight that the decision is a part of their constitutional right to keep and bear arms, according to the Second Amendment, but this constitutional right should only be extended to those who are old enough to truly understand that right.
Roshaunda Coleman is a sophomore broadcast journalism major and columnist for The Vidette. Any questions or comments regarding her column can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.