9 Year Old Shooter Accidentally Shoots, Kills Instructor With NFA Uzi

A 9 year old girl shooting a select fire Uzi submachine gun accidentally shot and killed the attendant range officer when the gun recoiled over her head at an Arizona range, according to the Associated Press:

DOLAN SPRINGS, Ariz. (AP) — A 9-year-old girl accidentally killed an Arizona shooting instructor as he was showing her how to use an automatic Uzi, authorities said Tuesday.

Charles Vacca, 39, of Lake Havasu City, died Monday shortly after being airlifted to University Medical Center in Las Vegas, Mohave County sheriff’s officials said.

Vacca was standing next to the girl at the Last Stop outdoor shooting range in White Hills when she pulled the trigger and the recoil sent the gun over her head, investigators said.

Authorities said the girl was at the shooting range with her parents. Her name was not released.

As an instructor, it can be difficult to make judgement calls on “how much gun” is safe for a new/small/young shooter to handle. Having said that, I think weapons with significant, continuous recoil impulses are perhaps not best mixed with young children.

My thoughts go out to the families of both the instructor and the young shooter. Stay safe, everyone.

H/T to Andrew, of VuurwapenBlog.

Nathaniel F

Nathaniel is a history enthusiast and firearms hobbyist whose primary interest lies in military small arms technological developments beginning with the smokeless powder era. In addition to contributing to The Firearm Blog, he runs 196,800 Revolutions Per Minute, a blog devoted to modern small arms design and theory. He is also the author of the original web serial Heartblood, which is being updated and edited regularly. He can be reached via email at nathaniel.f@staff.thefirearmblog.com.


  • Mouldy Squid

    Why was she allowed to shoot a full auto sub-machine gun? A terrible tragedy, surely, but one that could have been avoided with a little forethought.

    • valorius

      Freedom is dangerous.

      • morty finklesteinberg

        Pray tell- where is this freedom that thou speaketh of? Doth it exist at the IRS?

        • valorius

          “All that is required for evil to prevail, is for good men to do nothing.”

          We’ve been kicking back and doing nothing for a very long time now. The current state of our govt is a result.

          • dan citizen

            wait, some people are dissatisfied with our government?

            All this regulation, restriction, surveillance, etc. is here to benefit us, to protect us.

            Judging by the governments warnings if it was to change…. say, TSA stopped groping 5 year olds and granny ladies….

            Terrorists would seize control of the US, ISIS would force us all to become muslims, and we would all make unsafe healthcare choices.

            If we allow one phone call to be un-monitored, one toddler to slip through an airport without being fondled, the terrorists win!

          • valorius

            The war on terror (and on drugs) have destroyed the fabric of american society.

          • Guest


      • sianmink

        If it was safe it wouldn’t be freedom.

        • valorius


          • dan citizen

            They could have started her out with a couple or three rounds per mag.

      • Hopsaregood

        Stupidity is really dangerous.

    • morty finklesteinberg

      Annie Oakley.

      • dan citizen

        Annie Oakley’s micro uzi had a slowfire bolt, so the comparison isn’t exact.

    • At the risk of sounding emotionless, shit happens. There is no such thing as 100% safe, even on a range, even in the presence of an instructor.
      Complaining about the submachine gun, her age, the fact she should have been allowed to shoot it or not, or any other factor, is futile. It happened, complaining won’t change a thing. It’s thoughts such as yours that I find inappropriate and disgusting when such sad events occur, because they remind me of certain people. I’m sure you know who and what I mean.

      That’s it, really. All thoughts and prayers to the families of the deceased young shooter and the instructor. That is all I can do and that is all anyone should feel they are able to do.

      • Mouldy Squid

        I have no idea what you are talking about. Any sensible range officer would not have allowed a novice shooter (of any age), let alone a 9 year old child, fire a fully automatic firearm. It is patently unsafe.

        Would you have remained on the firing line if you knew that a child with no experience would be shooting a full auto Uzi next to you?

        It was a stupid mistake that cost a man his life, and cost a girl her childhood. A mistake that did not have to happen. The instructor acted irresponsibly and his irresponsibly has ruined the future of two families.

        This isn’t about the 2nd Amendment, it’s about range safety.

        • Oh, gods. How bad can I get sometimes? Excuse my burnout, I admit to getting defensive at times. I only realized your comment wasn’t an attempt at “BUT MUH COMMON SENSE” after I posted mine. Sincerest apologies.

          But still, shit happens, and… an idiot out of the movepool is what happened there, as sad as it is. I watched the video twice to make sure I did see what I saw, and… what I saw is an incompetent fool calling himself an instructor.

          Again, sorry, didn’t want to spark so much outrage.

          • Mouldy Squid

            Thank you for the apology.

      • Hopsaregood

        I believe that the gist of the complaints is the stupidity that allowed this to happen.

    • mechamaster

      And why the instructor not trained her with lower caliber firearms first.. And why not teaching the girl to fire the Uzi with controllable semi-auto mode first ?

      … Maybe the instructor want to train the girl to become ‘hit-girl’ like in the Kick-Ass movie. ( sorry for the last inappropriate joke )

  • valorius

    My dad used to crouch behind me and hold on when i was shooting heavy ordnance.

    Shot my first .44 mag at age five!

  • claymore

    It was a mini Uzi you can tell from the stock.

  • nova3930

    Feel bad for the poor girl. She’s gotta live the rest of her life knowing she killed someone. Intentional or no that’s a heavy burden to carry, especially for a child.
    I’ve also got to wonder wth the instructor was thinking. As fun as FA is, I don’t believe it’s appropriate for a novice shooter, especially with a smaller, harder to control weapon like an UZI and definitely not when said novice is a child. Yeah it can be hard for an instructor to guage capability, but to me this one is a no-brainer, with kids, stick to stuff that only goes bang once per trigger pull….

    • Ratcraft

      Complacency. He got complacent plain and simple. Why wasn’t he behind her, why didn’t he give her a mag with 2 or 3 rounds to start with? After seeing the video I was astounded by his lack of attention to detail.

      • Dr. Daniel Jackson

        Not to mention he did not teach her proper firearms safety.
        I still am wondering how the hell this guy got a job as firearms instructor,also anyone 9 years old shouldn’t be shooting a gun at all,how very irresponsible of the parents.

        • Daniel! Just because they’re aliens and their heads are transparent, doesn’t mean that they don’t have rights!

          • Dr. Daniel Jackson

            You drunk or something?

  • Michael R. Zupcak

    A couple of years a little kid shot himself with a Micro Uzi. STOP GIVING LITTLE KIDS FULL AUTO PISTOLS.

    • Besaris

      shall not be infringed.

      • Yes we all know that or should but you have to use good judgement which comes with that freedom. A gun like the UZI is not a gun an inexperienced child should start off with.

        • dan citizen

          Nothing in the second amendment protects recklessness.

      • sianmink

        Guns Not Politics.
        Ranges should have a ‘you must be this high to ride’ policy for full autos. I MIGHT let a 9 year old shoot a tripod MG or bipod on the ground (a lot harder for either of those to run away), IF they’ve shown good confidence and judgement with other guns, but an uzi pistol? heck naw.

        • sianmink

          Just like you shouldn’t let a 9 year old drive a Carrerra GT.

      • I really don’t think a range refusing to allow patrons to shoot their weapons on the basis of age is infringing on their rights.

        • dan citizen

          It is the ranges right to make decisions in the interest of safety. Their house, their rules. Shooters have the right to go somewhere else if they want their toddler to shoot a barrett.

      • Michael R. Zupcak

        It isn’t about that. I think you should be able to buy a select-fire Uzi at Home Depot but that doesn’t mean I agree giving it to a 70-pound child with grip strength likely insufficient to control a machine pistol.

    • Tim Pearce

      Yeah, when I saw this, I was, at first, wondering if they were rehashing that older story. Hopefully, there will now be enough media coverage of this that the next guy will realize it’s a bad idea, no matter how much the kid whines.

  • st4

    There’s an indoor range near me that no longer rents out the .44 magnum unless monitored to drop one round in the cylinder each time you fire it. It seems a new shooter inadvertently double-tapped upon the recoil of the first shot which brought the bore over and behind her, the second shot killing her significant other. Or so the story went.

    Anyhow I agree with Andrew.


  • guest

    Very tragic indeed. I’m from the deep south where hunting and shooting is a way of life instilled in all from a very early age. That being said, over zealous youngster are quite common and I believe it is my duty to preserve and improve upon our way of life. Firearm safety is taught at a very early age here, but I emphasize greatly to all youngsters about progression. Learning to crawl before we walk is a natural human process, and when we try to undermine this natural progression we ultimately end up with tragic events. My thoughts go out to both families (especially the child) as she can not be held responsible for the lack of supervision and poor judgement of those she confides in.

    • morty finklesteinberg

      WTF is the “Deep South”- Argentina?

      • dan citizen


  • Stephen

    I have seen many ‘instructors’ that leave me just shaking my head and of course you can’t tell them anything. There have been a few times I have had to pack up my family & leave because instructors were doing stupid.

    In this video, he ‘instructs’ the girl and lets her shoot one shot semi auto? Telling someone to do something is not ‘instructing’. He then proceeds to go full auto = stupid. Who lets anyone shoot 1 shot then go full auto – YOU NEVER GO FULL AUTO. Even in the military we didn’t do that – why? Because the same thing happens – the shooter holds the trigger back, gun starts running away, shooter then grips gun harder and keeps the trigger pressed to the rear and things go bad as it did here.

    I’m all for teaching kids firearms safety but when grown men and women have problems with FA, why in the world would you hand a child a micro uzi? I just hope the girl gets some good counseling because this could really mess her up.

  • John

    I remember a couple years ago a different kid killed himself accidentally with an NFA micro Uzi. Kids should not be handling those things.

  • morty finklesteinberg

    jew gun- usually it’s kids getting killed by ’em

  • morty finklesteinberg

    Proving Charles Darwin was correct FTW.

    • dan citizen

      evolution is on duty 24/7

  • annonimouse
  • Fruitbat44

    Another sad story.
    And, oh dear, “Last Stop” shooting range? In retrospect a rather unfortunate name . . .

  • Ratcraft

    My son shot one at 10. He proved through months of practice with .22 then .32 that he could handle the recoil of a 9mm handgun. Then he was allowed to shoot an Uzi, he did great. But there were still just 2 rounds in the mag 1st attempt….. then 3 then 5. You don’t give the keys to a cup car to a kid who has never driven.

  • USMC03Vet

    Always behind the shooter.

    My heart goes out to that girl that now has to live with that incident and now without a father.

    • dan citizen

      The instructor was not her father.

      • USMC03Vet

        Thanks for the clarification. I read elsewhere that it was.

        • dan citizen

          I could be wrong, It is still very tragic.

  • 1leggeddog
  • Zapp Brannigan

    Kids under the age of sixteen have no business handling firearms. They can wait until sixteen as there is not one good reason for a kid under the age of sixteen to be using firearms. And no, your reason doesn’t count. They can wait.

    The firearms community can either start self-policing and being sensible, emphasizing safety above all else, or they can continue on as usual and the government will enact rules to mandate sensible behavior.

    • Fuck you. Shall not be infringed. Perceived safety “for common sense” does not warrant freedom loss.

      Countless TFB readers have learned to shoot long before the age of 16 and they’re still here.

      • dan citizen

        It is reasonable that the instructor choose a weapon appropriate for that particular shooter. This instructor obviously misjudged. It is not a mistake he’ll repeat.

        • Yes, it is, self-policing is the only reasonable choice, but I have no sympathy for people who sincerely believe enforcing hard, arbitrary limits on age will solve anything. “No business handling firearms under the age of 16”? Yeah, what happened to not being a complete retard? There are plenty of ways this 9 year old kid could’ve had fun with the UZI -without- this happening. It’s just like enforcing magazine capacity limits. It’s unbelievably childish and retarded.

          I dunno, like the instructor not letting her fire full magazines, or being BEHIND her and not in front of her. But like I said, shit happens. It’s terrible, it’s tragic, and there is nothing anyone can do about it besides being safe on THEIR range trips and around firearms in general.

          • dan citizen

            I agree with you, this is not a situation that should be legislated away.

            This incident will create discussions, range practices will be examined, range instructors will modify their practices, people will learn.

            And yes, range accidents, like car accidents, will still happen. Life is risk.

      • schizuki

        Yeah, Jinkou, we all shot Micro Uzis at age 9. Jesus Christ, it’s no wonder you put “common sense” in quotes. It must be exotic to you.

        • Karina

          Right, because personal responsibility is irrelevant to all kids aged 16 or less. Sure. It makes so much more sense to just ban access to firearms, that is so much easier than teaching them how to properly and safely use them. Full auto or not. Yes truly, with insane emotionally-affected non-logic as yours being somehow “normal”, common sense isn’t common, it is rare and exotic.

        • Cymond

          Where did Hebizuka Jinkou advocate handing a Micro-Uzi to a 9 year old child? He merely refuted the concept that “Kids under the age of sixteen have no business handling firearms”. By Zapp’s logic, the entire category of “youth rifles” like the classic single-shot bolt-action 22lr Cricket should not even exist.


      • Zapp Brannigan

        So if you believe in the absolute nature of ‘Shall not be infringed’ then you support letting convicted felons in prisons have access to firearms. Or are you just a complete dumbass who parrots words without any understanding?

        You didn’t address my point, that nothing is lost by limiting access to firearms for those under the age of sixteen unless you consider you being a whiny “I want it now” baby something that is important.

        • Karina

          “Letting convicted felons IN PRISONS have access to firearms”?? What kind of complete authoritarian idiot are you?

    • Blake

      I completely disagree.

      I learned to shoot responsibly & accurately when I was 8 or so, as did my brothers. My youngest brother was winning competitions at rifle camp long before he knew how to drive.

      Having good firearms training instilled from a young age is just like learning to swim, ride a bicycle, etc. As long as it can be done safely and responsibly (which is the parents’ responsibility to determine) then by all means do it. Talk to your kids about guns, sex, drugs, alcohol, etc. as soon as you feel they’re ready.

      Would you rather your kid drink their first cocktail with you on a sunny afternoon on the back porch, or at some hidden party in the woods with their friends & try to drive home afterwards? Same goes for guns. At some point they’re probably going to experience firearms firsthand, and if you don’t teach them how to fear & respect guns yourself then you won’t be around when it happens.

      Going back to my own personal experience, I learned to shoot on my Dad’s 22LR Marlin 39 (of course this was back when a brick of 22LR cost about as much as a movie ticket). A couple years after that when I demonstrated proficiency with the Marlin freehand he let me shoot the semi-auto 10/22 & I started shooting skeet with his single-shot .410 as well. While I was in middle school we got an SKS. I was always reasonably good with rifles & rimfire pistols but it wasn’t until recently that we reconnected on the range that I started being able to shoot centerfire handguns worth a crap, thanks to my Dad’s training.

      but don’t take my word for it, ask the USA Olympic Youth Rifle Team: http://www.usashooting.org/membership/youth-programs/youthrifle

      see also Project Appleseed.

      taking the liberty to moderate your comment into something more appropriate:

      “no one has any business handling any firearm that isn’t appropriate for them”

      this includes training, experience, strength, mental capability, etc.

      My mother is an experienced shooter of many years, and is quite good at trap & skeet with her 20ga as well as pistol targets with the 22LR Woodsman and even the .380 ACP CZ-83. Would I give her my Dad’s Ruger Redhawk with a cylinder of full-power 44 Magnum loads? Hell no, she doesn’t have the arm strength to control it.

      Start your kids on a Henry lever action 22LR & let them get good at it before moving on to something else.

    • Cymond

      It’s good to know that you’re here to tell other people how to run their lives and raise their children. The world needs more people like you, dictating to others.

      I shot my first rounds at a very young age, mainly with bolt-action 22lr rifles. Honestly, the next step up was a snub-nose 38 Special, and then a very lightweight Winchester 94 in 30-30. Admittedly, I was a small kid, and I couldn’t handle the recoil of the Winchester until I was 16.

  • dan citizen

    Years back I happened to see non-shooters (extremely small adults) being familiarized with various automatic weapons.

    I shuddered when it came time for the MAC 10. I had a lot of trigger time on the weapon and considered it a handful, I was easily twice the size and much better nourished than these trainees.

    The head guy would load 3 rounds per magazine. The one time I saw a recruit try a full magazine he looped the gun and the last few shots went behind him, over his shoulder. Nobody important was hurt.

    These little machine pistols are very tricky, putting one with a full magazine in the hands of a 9 year old is not a mistake you make twice.

  • RickH

    I feel sorry for what happened, but what it comes down to is this was not a competent “instructor”. An intelligent instructor would never have allowed this to happen in the first place. What if the girl also shot herself? What kind of parents would allow this instructor or any for that matter, to let a (I’m assuming) novice shooter fire a full auto weapon? Just boggles my mind how this can happen.

  • schizuki

    No novice, ESPECIALLY a child, should be given a weapon that reloads itself. Not even a SEMI-auto. Novices should NEVER have a loaded chamber after they’ve fired a shot.

    The fact this happened just a few years after the almost identical incident in Massachusetts is the height of stupidity.


    Yeah, a .22lr plinker would’ve been right for a beginner like her. I’m going to go out on a limb and say that this was probably one of the first few guns she had ever laid hands on?
    You don’t start on Calculus before you learn how to count.

  • Blake

    When it comes down to brass tacks, this kind of incident is not exceptionally different from any of the following incidents of buffoonery:
    one could call it “indirect negligent discharge”…

    A few selected quotes from Tuhoy’s blog, with which I fully agree:

    “I take issue with the concept of a firearm as the sidekick of the jingoistic cretin; and yet these are the people who seem to introduce a significant portion of the population to shooting, or at least it must seem this way to people who have no involvement with firearms. ”

    “Just look at the number of guys who think it’s funny to have a girl shoot a super magnum shotgun or Desert Eagle pistol as her very first time pulling a trigger; clearly none of them give not one iota of an excrement about safety. When criticized, they scream loudly about the Second Amendment and freedom. When we passively accept this as part of our world, we are condoning the sort of behavior that leads to dead people. We must not shrink from our moral obligation to do what is right, even if it is difficult and their trucks have large tires.”

    • dan citizen

      “if the girl was over 17 she could potentially have been charged with a felony”

      There was an incident in the news a few years back about a teen who accidentally shot a range instructor. Somebody got it in their head it could have been a “thrill killing” and there was a lot of speculation, over analyzing of everything he ever wrote or doodled in a notebook. He was eventually cleared IIRC, but these incidents can turn into blame fests and witch hunts.

  • atmar

    i pity the little girl…………but not the stupid dead guy.

  • SM

    I feel sorry for the girl and both the families. I do not feel sorry for the instructor. He should have known better than to give a nine year old girl with little/no firearms experience a fully automatic weapon.

    I hate to say this, but the guy got burned by his mistakes.

    • dan citizen

      Thank goodness his mistake cost him his life and not hers.

  • mechamaster

    I know it’s a late, but sometimes people make a mistake how to teach the beginner of firearms handling and without the proper ‘entry-weapon’ and create traumatic / terrible experience.. for example : giving magnum to inexperience first-time shooter, and for this case, giving little girl an uncontrollable automatic uzi. ( According to the Mr. Miculek wive story )

  • Tiny

    What I don’t get is, they did this for FUN!

    They were on vacation, and instead of going horseback riding or
    rafting or something they decided to go do the “Bullets and Burgers”
    experience. I can just see the 9-year-old jumping up and down, yelling
    “oh yeah, Daddy, I wanna shoot the Uzi”. She was not trying to “learn
    how to shoot” and the “instructor” was not actually instructing, he was
    just trying to let a little girl have her “Uzi experience”.

    How do you get to the point where you think that shooting automatic weapons is a great family outing?

  • Tyler Horne

    a 9 year old girl wanted to shoot? One of these and this would’ve never happened.

  • Tiny

    They don’t do any instructing there. Read what they say on their Facebook:

    “You can skip the hardcore military training and come shoot the Barrett
    at Bullets & Burgers!!! No need for gun skills here…just fire at
    will and have a Blast!!!!”
    If you read the reviews on tripadvisor (which are enthusiastic) a number of people have said that they felt they were being rushed to shoot their… um… allotted number of projectiles. People go their because they think it’s fun!
    BTW looking at the video you can make a good case that guns do indeed kill people – that gun sure had a will of its own.

  • Charles Montgomery Rockson

    I’m all for teaching children about firearms, how to handle them properly, and what uses they are intended for. Such as a .22 for rabbit hunting. However, a full auto Uzi and loaded clip is, imho, a pretty dumb and dangerous idea. Heck, a full grow adult will have it rise from the blast. Give it to a 9 year old and well… surprise! This will just give the gun advocates fuel for their fire. 2011 > an 8 year old is killed when firing an UZI. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qDgZueOX_so

  • john huscio

    Let em stick to 22s until their 13……

  • smartacus

    **DISCLAIMER** not trying to be funny
    But he just became a front-runner for the 2014 Darwin Award alongside Kevin Ward Jr

  • ricksanchez1

    If Jewish, it was probably sort of a bar mitzvah “gift” or a rite of passage to fire an UZI.

  • j

    that’s rough

  • GunTotingLib

    What is the rush to get kids shooting full auto guns? I bet her parents wouldn’t let that 9 year old girl drive a car, but hey go ahead and drain that mag in that Uzi

  • MartialisXIII

    Check out this video http://youtu.be/hs9dmxnmeQg
    The bolt cycling does sound suspect. IMO.

  • La Crika De Tu Mai


  • James

    There is an old saying: “Not everything that can be said, should be said.” In this case the appropriate corollary might be “Not everything that can be done, should be done.”

    Where is the “instructor’s” common sense here? Small, slightly built, light girl + FA Uzi = trouble. Large, heavy, girl + FA Uzi = More recoil control. Maybe.

    If parents want their 9 year old to know guns, I’m fine with that. All 5 of my girls were shooters by 9 and had more respect for and common sense around guns, than ANY and I repeat any of more flighty people who thought guns were in and of them selves dangerous.

    This guy had a lapse of judgment, as the did the parents, and now everybody pays the price. Including those of us gun lovers who are responsible and possessed of a modecum of common sense on the subject.

  • Karl Emmanuel Sanchez Laursen

    a kid should practice first with a bb gun, when he/she has his bearings there upgrade to a .22 small or a .17 hummingbird, if daddy wants the kid to shoot FA then buy a stand like the turret the soldiers put on for the vulcan, only downsized to civilian specs.
    very sad to hear another kid got life screwed by lack of competence from responsible adults.