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article imageOp-Ed: Lack of responsibility leads to death of shooting instructor

By Alex Allen     Aug 28, 2014 in Crime
A 9-year-old girl in Arizona killed her shooting instructor Monday when she accidentally shot him with the Uzi submachine gun she was learning to fire.
It's a tragic story that has been circulating around various news outlets this week; a firearms instructor was killed after a lesson with a 9-year-old girl went horribly wrong. According to reports, the girl's parents took her to the range for a firearms lesson. She had been firing the Uzi in semi-auto mode, where one shot is fired each time the trigger is pulled. Seeing that she was doing well with the firearm, the instructor decided to switch the gun into full auto, where shots will continue to fire rapidly when the trigger is compressed until either all of the rounds have been fired or the shooter's finger is taken off the trigger. The recoil was apparently too much for the girl to handle in full-auto mode as the gun flew back in her hands, sending a fatal shot directly at the instructor, who died at the hospital later that day.
There's no doubt that this is an unfortunate story and something that could have easily been prevented had a little common sense come into play. The thing that is obvious to most people in this situation is the fact that the girl should not have been firing that gun. As the son of a gun hobbyist, I grew up around firearms. My dad has always liked guns and has always shot as a sport or a hobby in the same way that someone else may enjoy playing baseball or working on cars. So, yes, I was introduced to firearms at a very young age and I was shooting them at a young age as well. Unlike this girl, however, I was taught in a responsible manner; the way kids should be taught.
A lot of adults grow up being afraid of firearms simply because they had an irresponsible instructor when they were a child and they had a bad experience. A lot of irresponsible parents like to let their five and six year old kids who have never handled a gun before shoot very high-powered firearms — 12 Gauge shotguns, .50 caliber Desert Eagles, etc. — with intense recoil simply because they think it's funny to watch and videotape. In fact, the internet is filled with videos of young kids being knocked on the ground by the recoil of a firearm they clearly aren't old or responsible enough to be shooting. In most of these videos, you'll hear the irresponsible parents laughing hysterically in the background while running the video camera.
As we all know, the experiences we have when we're kids can have a huge impact on how we view the world when we're adults. So unfortunately, a lot of these kids who shot 12 gauge shotguns and automatic Uzis when they were five years old grow up never wanting to be near another gun while those of us who had parents or instructors with common sense wind up enjoying the shooting sport.
My dad started me out on a .22 caliber. It was something easy to shoot, it had practically no recoil and it was an easy and fun gun for me to learn on. Of course, he also taught me basic firearms safety, like always treating a gun as if it's loaded, not having your finger on the trigger until you're ready to fire and not pointing the gun at anything you don't wish to shoot, even if the gun is unloaded.
Because I started out on a low recoil, easy to shoot firearm that was actually age-appropriate, I was able to start shooting some larger caliber guns as I got older. I was introduced to the low recoil .410 shotgun, the 9mm handgun, and eventually, I got to the point where I was shooting .45 ACP pistols, .357 magnum revolvers and 12 gauge shotguns with no problem. Now, as I'm nearing 20 years old, I own several firearms myself, I'm a hobbyist and enthusiast like my dad and I'm able to shoot pretty much any firearm of any caliber without any fear or problems.
What I just described to you is the way thousands upon thousands of responsible gun owners were raised. But, of course, you won't be hearing a whole lot about experiences like mine in the media because stories like that aren't as controversial or tear-jerking or emotional as the stories where someone gets wounded or killed due to a lack of common sense and responsiblity.
The fact is that guns can be very dangerous if they're placed in irresponsible hands and kids who haven't been properly taught how to shoot are not responsible enough to handle large-caliber firearms. But learning how to properly shoot is not so different from learning how to do anything responsibly. Take cars, for example. Driving a vehicle is probably one of the most dangerous things a person can do but we put sixteen-year-olds behind the wheel and send them out on the road. That being said, if you were teaching a fifteen or sixteen-year-old how to drive you wouldn't start them out on the interstate would you?
It's the same with firearms. Start your kids out on a simple gun that isn't very powerful or difficult to use and let them gradually take off from there; and maybe if we can all have a little bit of common sense on these issues, we can see more responsible gun owners in the world and less accidents like what happened on Monday.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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