Bullets and Burgers: 9-Year-Old Girl Accidentally Kills Instructor After Being Given Uzi At Target Range

Screen Shot 2014-08-28 at 3.24.58 PMWe previously discussed the tragic case of an eight-year-old boy who shot himself accidentally with a fully automatic Uzi. A similar tragedy has now occurred but it is the instructor who was killed by a 9-year-old girl learning to fire a submachine gun in Arizona at the Bullets and Burgers shooting range. The instructor, 39-year-old Charles Vacca, died at a hospital after he was shot in the head.

300px-uzi_1Bullets and Burgers allows children between 8 and 17 to shoot such weapons. An Uzi is an Israeli-made submachine gun. In this case, the recoil moved the weapon off the shoulder of the little girl and turned toward the instructor. The video showing the event up to the second before the shooting is shown below. The video shows Vacca positioning the little and her firing off a single round. Vacca then adjusted the Uzi, put his right hand on her back and his left under her right arm. She fired several rounds in rapid succession before the gun kicked to the left as she lost control. She was with her parents.

Bullets and Burgers advertises that “We separate ourselves from all other Las Vegas ranges with our unique ‘Desert Storm’ atmosphere and military style bunkers.”

These types of accidents are generally covered under issues of assumption of the risk and contractual waivers by all of the parties, including the instructors. The death would be covered under worker’s compensation unless the Vacca family will seek negligence liability for how the facility is run or structured as well as standards of training and safety. There is the separate question of whether the state should limit such use of weapons, a highly controversial question with gun rights advocates who are likely to point out that all of the parties consent to such risks (with the parents consenting for the minor). Finally, there is the emotional distress for this little girl who will have to live with this incredibly horrific memory.

Notably, some coverage suggests that Vacca may have been negligent in where he was standing. Greg Block, who runs California-based Self-Defense Firearms Training, said that a child should not be using this type of gun and that Vacca “was literally in the line of fire. He did pretty much everything wrong, and I don’t like saying that because it cost the man his life.” That would raise the question of possible liability of the range if the family were to sue over the trauma to their daughter, though such a lawsuit would present difficult issues since they would effectively have to sue the man killed by the minor under a respondeat superior theory.

In the Massachusetts case, former Pelham Police Chief Edward Fleury was found not guilty two years ago in a prosecution for involuntary manslaughter and furnishing a machine gun to a minor in the death of 8-year-old Christopher Bizilj.

205 thoughts on “Bullets and Burgers: 9-Year-Old Girl Accidentally Kills Instructor After Being Given Uzi At Target Range”

  1. “Gun Range Claimed Uzi Release Forms ‘Were Blown Away By The Wind’”

    Well, if this actually was true the absence of these release forms is going to not help the gun range at all if a civil action is initiated against them by the family.

  2. Paul,
    if the “wind blew away the release” excuse is disallowed, will the gun range use “the dog ate the release forms” next?
    It is disturbing that the police did not release the name of the self shooting victim or if the police did provide the name it is equally disturbing that the article did not mention the name.

    1. rafflaw – have you seen the haboobs here? Here is one from July of this year.

      1. Storms like those shown in the video are called “dust storms” in Arizona. Have been for the last 50 years that I can remember. In the last few years, the media, after having reporters in the Arab countries a lot, have been trying to call them “haboobs” despite a very vocal protest by the long-time local residents. I suggested changing the state motto to “Arizona: the state with the big haboobs”, but that idea never seemed to catch on. Perhaps most Arizonans are too smart or too stubborn to be Arabized by the media. Or, maybe dust storms are just dust storms here and don’t need to be embellished by words from a foreign language.

        1. Tyger – I could not agree with you more. It is a big a** dust storm, not a haboob. And the monsoon should go back to its irregular start time rather than the new official start date. It never rains when the monsoon starts and it always rains after it ends. We live here, not the damn National Weather Service.

  3. “2. Hundreds of thousands of people have been killed by machine guns during wars, yet it is rare, if ever, that anyone suggests passing a law that makes wars illegal.

    Question: Why aren’t the anti-gunners wanting wars banned? (Governments and their armies with guns have killed millions more during wars than individuals with guns have ever killed, intentionally or accidentally.)”

    This is one of the dumbest pro-gun arguments I’ve ever heard…

    1. Mike, it’s not a pro-gun argument. It’s anti-war. Leftist anti-gunners scream about guns when individuals kill others with a gun, even when it’s an accident, yet they aren’t protesting the endless succession of wars their governments are so willing to wage. The silence of the pro-gun right on this issue is just as bad.

      The viciousness of humanity and its incessant desire to form groups to kill those who do not conform to the beliefs and values of the group is the problem.

      Individuals owning guns for personal protection is almost a necessity today, and having a gun is a Constitutional right, which was originally intended as a way to help keep the government in check. Everyone seems to think having governments to “protect” them is desirable, and having an army organized by a national government to protect its citizens from attack by other countries is an almost universally accepted concept.

      Unfortunately, once created, governments tend to grow in their scope, and they go from being protective to controlling, forming armies to march around the world killing everyone who doesn’t submit to their demands. History documents this clearly. In more than 2000 years, few have learned that having national governments and armies are a bad idea, if only because the wrong type of people inevitably become in command of them. And like guns, a government in the wrong hands can kill people, only it usually is thousands and tens of thousands at a time, ultimately totaling millions of dead. This is something to scream about, I believe.

      I argue pro-freedom for the individual, which is anti-war by definition.

  4. Darren Smith
    Would it be possible for those engaging in personal bantering to stop?
    It would be great if someone with experience could help the professor take this blog to a proper board where people have to register to post and where they can just PM each other if they want to engage in personal squabbles.

  5. Doc,

    It’s not surprising at all when you know who the “anyone” is who thinks that the two words have the same connotation.


  6. Surprising that anyone would think that ‘parrot’ and ‘quote’ are synonyms.

    1. Elaine – I never said the connotations are the same. It is the denotations that are the same, in THIS context.

  7. http://www.oed.com/


    2. trans. To repeat (words, ideas, or actions) mindlessly or mechanically; to repeat the words, ideas, or actions of (another person) without apparent understanding or thought; to mimic. Formerly also †intr. (obs. rare).



    a. To reproduce or repeat a passage from (a book, author, etc.); to repeat a statement by (a person); to give (a specified person, body, etc.) as the source of a statement. Cf. cite v. 2a.

    b. To mention or refer to (a book, author, etc.) as providing support or evidence for a particular statement, opinion, or practice.

  8. Some folks just don’t comprehend the subtle differences in words that have similar meanings. Some words have negative connotations. Some don’t

    1. Elaine – you don’t have the link to the two terms from the OED. Find that a little odd, since you had it for the Oxford Dictionaries.

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