A recent fatal accident at a Southwest gun range has led to a great deal of debate among New Mexico residents as to the wisdom involved in allowing kids to shoot automatic weapons. The incident has been widely reported in the media and has sparked increased discussion on gun issues within a wider context. In light of this serious injury that led to death, many across the nation are wondering whether restrictions should be placed on the age of individuals who shoot these powerful weapons, even within a controlled environment.
The incident took place as a 9-year-old girl was being instructed in the operation of a semiautomatic Uzi. It is unclear how the gun was turned on the instructor, who lost his life as a result of the gunshot wounds suffered in the accidental shooting. There is no word on how much training the child had received in gun control or safety, or whether she had experience with this particular type of weapon.
When asked about the risks of allowing children to shoot automatic weapons, one New Mexico gun range training director asserts that the practice is both common and safe. He stated that children at his facility are allowed to shoot AR-15s, MAC-11s, Uzis and AK-47s. The facility allows children as young as 8 years of age to use these weapons. As for training, the director stated that the business evaluates a child's age, maturity level, shooting skill and physical skills before allowing him or her to shoot. No details were provided as to how such evaluations are completed.
For many in New Mexico, the recent accidental shooting of a trained gun instructor by a 9-year-old girl is sufficient reason to carefully consider the wisdom of allowing kids to shoot automatic weapons, even in the relatively safe conditions of a gun range. In the event that an incident resulting in serious injury takes place, the facility and the management staff that allowed a child to handle an automatic weapon could face a personal injury suit. In the case of a fatal accident, a wrongful death action could be the end result.
Source: ABC News, "New Mexico Firing Range Allows Children to Shoot Semiautomatic Weapons", Geetika Rudra, Aug. 31, 2014