In My Opinion

Ana Veciana-Suarez: A 9-year-old with an Uzi? That’s crazy

 
 
 <span class="cutline_leadin">MOMENTS BEFORE TRAGEDY:</span> A  video  shows the girl, in pink shorts and braided ponytail, with her hands clutched around the grip of the submachine gun.
MOMENTS BEFORE TRAGEDY: A video shows the girl, in pink shorts and braided ponytail, with her hands clutched around the grip of the submachine gun.

aveciana-suarez@MiamiHerald.com

There is nothing, absolutely nothing logical or sensible or worthwhile in having a 9-year-old learn to use an Uzi. No reason, none whatsoever, for a child to handle a fully automatic gun.

Powerful and deadly, the Uzi was designed to be fired by trained adult soldiers in war-like situations. It is not a .22 or some other sport gun that children can — and do — learn to shoot safely. So why, oh why, was a fourth-grader at a shooting range with an Uzi?

In case you missed it: Last week a girl from New Jersey on a family vacation accidentally killed her instructor with an Uzi at a gun range. Apparently the child was unable to deal with the gun’s recoil. And for good reason. This Uzi spits out 10 bullets a second, and the resulting kickback is hard enough for an adult to handle, let alone a little girl.

A cellphone video that her parents turned over to the sheriff’s department shows the girl, in pink shorts and braided ponytail, with her hands clutched around the grip of the submachine gun. After her first shot, the instructor congratulates her and shifts the gun to fully automatic mode. The child again pulls the trigger but cannot hold the gun straight and the Uzi rises and jerks to the left.

Charles Vacca, 39, a veteran at the Last Stop gun range in White Hills, Arizona, was airlifted to a nearby hospital, where he died 11 hours later — another avoidable, senseless death due to our misdirected love affair with firearms.

I don’t own a gun and doubt I ever will. What’s more, I would never consider packing my children or grandchildren into the family van for an afternoon outing of target practice, but I know people who do. People who have taught their children the responsible way of handling a gun from an early age. One family friend, for example, has hunted with his son since the child was in elementary school. An excellent shot now, the teen has a healthy respect for the power of a bullet.

It isn’t uncommon for children to fire guns at ranges under adult supervision. And as proof that there’s a flavor for every taste, some ranges in gun-friendly states, including Arizona, have even carved out a lucrative machine-gun tourism business.

But putting an Uzi in the hands of a child? No way, no how. An automatic weapon isn’t a toy. It’s a killing machine.

In fact, last week’s accidental killing isn’t the first one involving a child and an Uzi. In 2008, Christopher Bizilj, 8, shot himself in the head at a gun fair in Massachusetts. The boy’s father was supporting his son from behind when the shooting happened.

What were the parents of these children thinking? Shouldn’t instructors have known better? Aren’t there age and size restrictions for users of such potent firearms?

Turns out we have regulations to limit driving, rules to curtail drinking, even elaborate signage at fairs that warn caregivers when carnival rides aren’t safe for children who don’t meet certain height requirements. Laws governing the use of automatic weapons by children, on the other hand, are few.

I believe, however, legislation can do only so much. Even with laws, even with a growing safety awareness that has led to a dramatic drop in unintentional gun-related fatalities among kids (according to the National Shooting Sports Foundation), there is no substitute for common sense. None whatsoever.

A 9-year-old with an Uzi? Crazy. Fatally crazy.

Read more Ana Veciana Suarez stories from the Miami Herald

  • In My Opinion

    #ThrowbackThursday, #FlashbackFriday: Nostalgia that keeps us grounded

    I’m not one to indulge in nostalgia, yet I’m intrigued by all those old pictures that keep popping up in my social media feeds. You know the ones — pre-digital photos that are stamp-dated by bouffant hairdos and bushy sideburns. Photos that, before they were uploaded and posted, tagged and shared, were stripped from a yellowing page of an ancient scrapbook.

  •  
 <span class="cutline_leadin">ATTRACTING ATTENTION:</span> In its new ad campaign, Dear Kate features prominent tech women posing in its bras and panties. The collection is called the Ada Collection, named after the mathematician Ada Lovelace who wrote the first algorithm back in the 1800s.

    In My Opinion

    Ana Veciana-Suarez: Underwear ads do nothing to empower tech women

    The advertising photos are meant to be empowering, feminist even, a thumb-in-the-eye response to the well-documented sexism of the tech world. Yet, I glance at these beautiful and beautifully talented women posing in their skivvies and think, This ain’t the way to get respect, sisters.

  •  
 <span class="cutline_leadin">MOMENTS BEFORE TRAGEDY:</span> A  video  shows the girl, in pink shorts and braided ponytail, with her hands clutched around the grip of the submachine gun.

    In My Opinion

    Ana Veciana-Suarez: A 9-year-old with an Uzi? That’s crazy

    There is nothing, absolutely nothing logical or sensible or worthwhile in having a 9-year-old learn to use an Uzi. No reason, none whatsoever, for a child to handle a fully automatic gun.

Miami Herald

Join the
Discussion

The Miami Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere on the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

The Miami Herald uses Facebook's commenting system. You need to log in with a Facebook account in order to comment. If you have questions about commenting with your Facebook account, click here.

Have a news tip? You can send it anonymously. Click here to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Miami Herald and el Nuevo Herald.

Hide Comments

This affects comments on all stories.

Cancel OK

  • Marketplace

Today's Circulars

  • Quick Job Search

Enter Keyword(s) Enter City Select a State Select a Category