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Children Need Gun Safety, Says Lewisville Gun Range Owner

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LEWISVILLE (CBSDFW.COM) – Video showing the moments before an Arizona gun instructor was accidentally shot dead by his 9-year-old student has been released by the Mohave County Sheriff’s Department.

The cell phone recording shows Charles Vacca, 39, giving the young girl last minute instructions before handing her a gun.  “Alright, go ahead and give me one shot,”  Vacca can be heard saying on the video.

According to a statement from the sheriff’s office, “Vacca was standing next to the girl while he was instructing her how to use to weapon when the accident happened. Further investigations determined the girl pulled the trigger on the automatic Uzi, the recoil sent the gun over her head and the victim was shot.”

The shooting has sparked a national conversation about children and guns.  More specifically, should young children be allowed to handle such powerful, automatic weapons?

David Prince, owner of Eagle Gun Range.  (credit: CBS 11 News/Joel Thomas)

David Prince, owner of Eagle Gun Range. (credit: CBS 11 News/Joel Thomas)

It’s a question Eagle Gun Range owner David Prince has heard many times.  When he opened his business in Lewisville in 2012, he made nationwide headlines for offering gun range birthday parties for children as young as 8.

“Children have to learn how to handle guns.  They are around them.  They’re in homes, They’re in video games. They’re an integral part of society,” said Prince, who emphasizes his passion for teaching kids how to use guns safely.

While Prince says they don’t typically use full automatic guns at his range because “grown men struggle with holding full auto on target,” he said it appeared the Arizona instructor was doing everything correctly in the released video.

“You stand a step back for a reason, keep a hand on them,” he explained.

At Eagle, guns are tethered to the table, so they don’t rise more than a few inches due to the recoil.  Prince sends all his instructors — or range safety officers, as he calls them — to NRA certification training.  He says he will have his employees watch the Arizona video as a teaching tool.

“When you’re watching it, it breaks your heart because it’s ruined her life,” said Prince.

When asked if a 9-year-old should have been handling an UZI, Prince said he did not want to second guess someone else’s decision.

“Is there an age for this kind of weapon?  It depends on the maturity of the child.  You’ve got children that have been shooting .22 and BB guns since they were 3.  I can’t say there is an age,” he said.  “It’s an inherent dangerous sport, like skydiving and deep sea diving.  You get girls doing gymnastics that do double back flips and land on their neck wrong…and how young do they start those girls?”

On the CBSDFW Facebook page, viewers shared a range of opinions.  Sue Humphrey-Collins wrote, “What kind of parent would let a 9 year old handle and type of gun especially an UZI?”

Cindy Alisea Bell echoed, “There is no reason for a 9 year old to shoot an Uzi. Period.”

But Larry Adkins posted, “Firearms safety is important at any age. I shot my first gun about the same age and learned how dangerous they are and that they are tools not toys.”

While Prince knows this latest tragic accident will raise a lot of questions about gun control, he stands firm on his continued commitment and support of the second amendment, “People need to be careful with them.  Do they need to ban them? Absolutely not.  People need to be careful with them.”

(©2014 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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