Stupidity allowed death at gun range

In this handout video screen capture provided by In this handout video screen capture provided by Mohave County, firing-range instructor Charles Vacca, 39, is seen assisting a 9-year-old girl with an Uzi seconds before the weapon recoiled upwards shooting Vacca in the head, at the Last Stop outdoor shooting range on August 25, 2014 in White Hills, Arizona. Photo Credit: Getty Images / Handout

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The furor over the shooting death of a firearms instructor at the hands of a 9-year-old girl isn't about gun rights or restrictions, or at least it shouldn't be. It isn't about the Second Amendment or the National Rifle Association or the Brady law or the size of an ammunition magazine.

It's about parenting, and the careless stupidity of adults who ought to know better.

On Monday, a 9-year-old girl and her parents, visiting the West from New Jersey, went to Last Stop, a popular outdoor shooting range in White Hills, Arizona, about 25 miles southeast of Las Vegas. Last Stop lets customers shoot just about any type of civilian or military weapon.

And the business lets children shoot the weapons, too.

It's not as if Last Stop has no safety rules for shooting weapons like the Uzi that killed the instructor: You have to be at least 8 years old to fire the weapons.

A video posted online shows Charles Vacca instructing the girl, who then takes a single shot with the submachine gun. The publicly released version of the cellphone video taken by one of her parents ends there, although there is apparently more.

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Vacca then reportedly set the gun to full automatic and the girl began to shoot, losing control and fatally hitting him in the head.

You can't blame the girl, who was probably fascinated by the weapon and reassured that the adults involved thought the situation was safe. She might bear emotional scars forever for something she couldn't be expected to have stopped.

But the parents? The gun range staff? They acted so irresponsibly that the situation can't be easily believed. It's a madness so extreme that parental instincts should have stopped it. If those could not, it's hard to imagine that ordinary laws would, any more than they stop the worst parents from letting kids drive all-terrain vehicles without helmets.

This is the key lesson for parents, and for all adults who come into contact with kids: Don't be so damn stupid. It could be deadly.

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