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Published: Tuesday, 9/2/2014


9-year-old killer

The nation’s firearms debate has a new element: gun control for children.

Last week in Arizona, a 9-year-old girl lost control of an Uzi submachine gun, shooting and killing Charles Vacca, her 39-year-old instructor. Not only did the girl have her parents’ permission, but the adults videotaped her using the weapon.

This isn’t the first time such a tragedy has occurred. In 2008, an 8-year-old boy accidentally shot himself with the same type of weapon in Massachusetts.

A 9-year-old can’t drink alcohol, drive a car, or vote. Why should a 9-year-old be handed a weapon that is typically used by military and law enforcement personnel, even at a firing range under the supervision of an instructor?

According to federal studies, unintentional firearm injuries caused the deaths of 606 people in 2010. One report said that 8 percent of the deaths from unintentional shootings were caused by shots fired by children under age 6. The countries with the strictest gun laws, meanwhile, have the fewest fatalities, says the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence.

This country has laws meant to keep firearms away from people with mental illness or criminal records. It also needs laws to protect Americans from the inability to use guns properly.

Some parents and gun-range operators may think it’s all right for a child to hold enormous firepower. Loved ones of victims such as Mr. Vacca know it is not.

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