Tragedy at the Gun Range: How Young is Too Young to Fire an Uzi?

Photo of Brant Stogner

Given the nature of firearms, a day at the gun range can be exhilarating, but should always be treated with precaution and a safety-first mentality. On August 25th, 2014, a 9-year-old girl was taken by her parents to the Last Stop outdoor gun range in Arizona to shoot an Uzi, a fully automatic submachine gun. In the video taken by the 9-year-old's parents, the girl holds the machine gun and begins to fire at a target down range. The machine gun recoil is too much for her and the girl loses control over the weapon as the automatic fire recoil forces the weapon upward and to the left. Tragically, the range instructor, Charles Vacca, a U.S. Army veteran that did two tours in Kosovo as a tank operator, was shot in the head and died shortly after being shot by the 9-year-old.

The family members of Charles Vacca have filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the Last Stop gun range alleging that its owners and operators were negligent for entrusting a fully automatic machine gun to a 9-year-old girl. According to attorney representing the family member of Charles Vacca, the gun range owners are completely and solely liable. Indeed, the lawsuit claims that the gun range owners and operators should never have allowed a 9-year-old to fire a fully automatic Uzi.

The gun range owners are sued for negligence, gross negligence, and negligent entrustment of an unreasonably dangerous firearm to an unfit user. The lawsuit also states that the Defendants failed "to appropriately inspect, train warn and/or supervise the shooting range personnel, failing to provide a safe work environment..."

Mr. Vacca leaves behind four children, a wife, and an ex-wife. They seek compensatory and special damages for the wrongful death of Charles Vacca. No criminal charges were brought against the 9-year-old, her family members, or anybody associated with the shooting range.

If you or someone you know was injured or killed in an accident involving a gun range or a firearm, it is important to know your right to recover. Contact an attorney at Abraham, Watkins, Nichols, Sorrels, Agosto & Friend by calling 713-222-7211 or toll free at 1-800-870-9584 for a confidential consultation.

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