Firearms experts say Arizona Uzi tragedy could've been prevented

NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - A 9-year-old girl accidentally kills a gun instructor in Arizona while learning how to shoot an automatic Uzi machine gun. Gun owners say the accident could've been prevented and fear it'll give the gun world a bad rap.

Dave Newman is a firearms instructor. In all his years of teaching, Newman says he's never seen something like what happened in Arizona. Cell phone video shows the instructor, 39-year-old Charles Vacca, teaching the little girl how to use the Uzi. When it comes time to shoot, the instructor stands to the girls side, instead of behind her. Newman says all instructors should know they have to stand behind the person shooting - especially in this case, given how powerful an Uzi can be.

"I've shot a fully automatic, and they have a tendency to pull. What that means is when you squeeze the trigger, the gun rises to one side, usually to the left. When they instructed me to shoot it, they told me to literally put my other hand on the top of the gun so that when it did rise. It didn't rise too much," Newman explained.

Instructor Gavin Chachere says an Uzi would be difficult for anyone to handle, let alone a child. "It's not the appropriate gun for a 9-year-old to shoot, especially in fully automatic," said Chachere.

After the girl fired the weapon, it recoiled over her shoulder. Vacca was shot in the head and died.

Gun owner Trish Wilson says, "It's tragic and it's frustrating because none of the people that I've been around advocate that type of irresponsible behavior. Then, when something like this happens it's like you have to defend everyone who shoots."

Wilson says she regularly sees children at the Shooters Club in Harahan, as it is legal for people under 18 to fire a weapon if under the supervision of a parent or guardian.

Dave Newman says he has no problem with kids learning how to shoot as long as it's done the right way. "This is an example of people not thinking about safety first because it's always safety first. That's the way you should always think," Newman said.

Authorities in Arizona won't be filing charges against the girl. She was at the shooting range with her parents, and it was her father who captured the fatal incident on video.

Copyright 2014 WVUE. All rights reserved.