Thursday, August 28, 2014

A Firearms Tragedy That Should Have Been Avoided - Learn From It

The parent's of the 9 year old girl, who brought her to a firearms range in AZ and allowed her to fire an Uzi did nothing wrong as I see it. The girl firing the gun did nothing wrong from what I understand. Yet sadly, the firearms instructor teaching her to shoot was killed when the gun was fired full auto by the little girl and the recoil caused her to lose her hold with her left hand and thus lose control of the muzzle. The gun came up, back and to the left apparently around more to the left than back or up, while still firing, and a shot hit the instructor in the head killing him. (source)

I realize the family is grieving, everyone involved is grieving and probably in shock too but the time to say this is now in the hope that it may help prevent another such tragedy. When you teach young children to shoot, especially something like a full auto gun, you as the instructor are absolutely responsible for assuring that it is done in a safe manner. That means keeping hands on the weapon to control it while the child is firing it until you are sure, absolutely sure, that the child knows how to handle it and is actually capable of handling it and knows what to do should control of the weapon be lost. That lesson should have been learned by the instructor when he was taught to become a firearms instructor and should have been common practice by him when teaching both adult and minor shooters. 

The video, seemingly of the actual moments before the actual tragic shot, surprisingly shows the girl firing the gun up to just before the moment that the bullet hit the instructor and I do mean just before as in a split second. It is evident, in the video, that the instructor was not hands on the Uzi she was firing, he seems to have had one hand supporting her elbow as she fired it probably because he thought she could not properly support the weapon on her own, his other hand is on or close to her back. There is a bench in front of her on which she could have and probably should have supported the weapon freeing his hand to be on the weapon, not on her elbow. The gun came right around at him with no resistance from him once the girl lost control of it. As firearm instructors (certified or not), especially of small children, we must never forget that we are responsible that things are being done safely. You cannot treat a nine (9) year old shooter like an adult nor expect them to be able to responsibly handle a firearm like an adult. You need to be hands on and that does not mean both hands on the shooter, it means at least one hand on the gun.

Note that this accident is not a reason that young children should not be taught how to shoot, or to prevent them from shooting guns like Uzis, but it sure is more than enough reason to make sure that doing so is accomplished safely with special regard to the fact that the shooter is a young child (and in this case to the fact that the gun was full auto) and thus additional precautions must be taken by the instructor.

Nothing much more to say except that my sincere condolences go out to the family, loved ones and friends of the instructor who was apparently doing what he loved and helping to continue the tradition of our liberty to exercise the Right to Keep and Bear Arms in America by bringing youngsters into the fold. I also hope that the girl will be able to overcome the mental anguish she must surely be suffering, truly - she did no wrong. To the rest of you, please shoot and instruct safely.

All the best,
Glenn B