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. “To suggest that further proficiency testing is necessary to vote, is harkening back to a time that we all should be ashamed of as US citizens.”

    It was you that made the point proficiency is what is necessary to become lawful citizens. Jack and I agree with that. However, there is an obvious gap that you apparently won’t acknowledge. For those privileged to have been born US citizens, proficiency testing has not been required. Logically, either proficiency testing IS necessary or it IS NOT to exercise all the rights and privileges afforded lawful citizens.

    The shame shouldn’t be on lawful citizens wanting proficiency testing to exercise the right to vote. The shame should be on those defending the right to vote without requisite proficiency. An Uzi in the hands of an unqualified 9 yr old might be a danger to those on the range but the vote in the hands of an unqualified citizen is a danger to the entire republic. The real irony is, the latter’s exercise of a legislated right will be exploited to infringe the natural right of the former.

  2. Elaine, Was the word “state” capitalized when the Second Amendment was ratified?

  3. Elaine, it always seems to end up with personal insults. The videos and political cartoons you link to display that you have a finely honed sense of humor. Thanks for that. I really enjoy them, as well as your other links.

    1. Elaine – I have yet to see you post anything that showed a sense of humor. However, serial links are not very funny.

  4. Elaine – do you see an age requirement anywhere in the Second Amendment?

  5. Justagirl,

    It’s all about the Constitution, the Second Amendment, and having a well regulated militia of minors. The young’uns are necessary to the security of our free State, doncha know? Can’t infringe on the right of kiddies to bear Uzis on a shooting range.


  6. justa,

    Adults can go into a gun store and buy an Uzi. Just not a fully automatic one.

    A child cannot purchase/own a gun. A parent can own a gun and let the child possess it.

    I don’t know if I would go so far as to restrict a parent from teaching their child how to shoot a fully automatic Uzi, but I am definitely game for preventing a firearms instructor/range from putting that weapon in the child’s hands.

  7. justagurl – just to drive you a little more crazy, I think citizens have a Constitutional Right to any weapon used by the military, if they can afford it. So, if you can afford an aircraft carrier, you should have an aircraft carrier. There is nothing in the Constitution about age requirements for rights. Your rights begin with your birth and for me, at your conception.

  8. You know, reading some of the comments here, really makes me miss the Reagan years….

    We are certainly not dealing with Reagan Conservatives anymore…

    Conservatives just want to go too far with some of this stuff…

    Come on, a 9 Year Old have a CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHT to Own and shoot an Uzi?

    Of course I find that funny being that even adults are not allowed to just walk into a gun store and buy an Uzi….
    so, the likelihood that a 9 year old child has the right to walk into a
    gun store and buy an Uzi, is quite out there.

    and if you think that 9 year old should have this right, then I guess
    so should a 6 year old… a 3 year old?

    That is how ridiculous that sounds… Of course you will not see that….

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