Stephanie Vacca, the widow of Charles Vacca, a gun range employee killed in 2014 accident involving a young shooter, says that her husband would be “rolling in his grave” over an exploitative bill sponsored by Senator Edward Markey (D-MA) and Congressman Ruben Gallego (D-AZ), called the HEART Act.

The HEART Act is a bait-and-switch bill that conflates machine guns with common training and competition rifles, and would deny younger shooters and teens access to firearms safety training.

Stephanie Vacca

In an exclusive interview provided to Bearing Arms, Stephanie Vacca claims that Vacca’s children from his first marriage are being used to push an exploitative HEART Act that Charles Vacca would have hated.

If anything, he’s cussing up a storm, breaking stuff, and screaming and rolling at this point. If anyone that you spoke to, that knew him, even before me, they have all contacted me. The minute that they saw the article, my phone has been … It was on the news. I got phone calls from Vegas, phone calls from Texas, phone calls from New York, phone calls from a friend in Germany. They all called me, they’re like, “What the hell’s going on? Charlie’s spinning in his grave right now.”

Stephanie Vacca was approached by the law firm of Lamber Goodnow to speak out in favor of the poorly-named HEART Act, to which she says she responded, “Oh, Hell no!” when she discovered it would apply to common firearms used in youth firearms training and competition shooting.

Vacca says that the law firm of Lamber Goodnow is pursuing a wrongful death suit against the range where Charles Vacca was killed, and is instrumental in exploiting her step-children to push a bait-and-switch gun bill that targets the most popular youth training and and competition rifles.

Senator Edward J. Markey and Congressman Ruben Gallego introduced new legislation that claims will “ensure that powerful, military-style weapons don’t end up in the hands of children”.

The Help End Assault Rifle Tragedies (HEART) Act of 2016 as announced by Markey and Gallego claims to protect children by prohibiting anyone under the age of 16 from possessing or firing machine guns and assault weapons, specifying that the law would extend to gun shows and shooting ranges.

However, the bill clearly aims to shut down all youth shooting sports and young hunters’ ability to participate in any activity that uses guns.

The HEART Act is a bill which would “prohibit the transfer, loan, or other disposition of a machinegun or semiautomatic assault weapon to an individual under 16 years of age”

Semiautomatic assault weapon? Like a hunting rifle or shotgun for skeet shooting?

Precisely twice in the past decade children have been given hard to control, high cyclic rate submachine guns (Mini Uzis) by poorly-trained staff at shooting ranges with predictable results.  Dr. Charles Bizilj insisted that his eight-year-old son Christopher use the gun, even though the teenaged range safety officer twice suggested the gun was too powerful. Christopher killed himself seconds later. In 2014, a remarkably similar incident took place, where a nine year-old-girl lost control of a Mini Uzi she was firing, leading to the death of range employee Charles Vacca, who had no firearms training certifications of any kind that would have prepared him to teach automatic weapons, despite spending 16 years in the Army National Guard.

Neither firearm used in these tragedies (submachine guns) were an “assault rifle” by even the broadest definition, and the HEART Bill isn’t targeting just fully-automatic firearms. It is instead a bait-and-switch bill that exploits these two tragic deaths to virtually ban youth firearms training and competition shooting in the United States in an effort to strip future generations of firearms safety training at the ages they need it most.

I’m personally involved with one of the many firearms training organizations that would be hard hit by the HEART bill, the Appleseed Project. The Appleseed Project is a volunteer-run apolitical firearms training and safety project that trains both youths and adults in rifle marksmanship and safety.

While Appleseed tries to accommodate any rifle a student may have, the course of fire is optimized to use magazine-fed, semi-automatic .22LR rifles such as the Ruger 10/22 and Marlin 795, two of the most common .22-caliber rifles in the United States. A specific set of features turns these common training guns into Liberty Training Rifles (photo courtesy of Oleg Volk).

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The HEART bill would cripple the ability of Project Appleseed, the Boy Scouts, and other organizations to deliver rifle training on the most common training rifles in the United States by treating these common rifles as if they were machine guns handed to children.

This is incredibly fraudulent and morally reprehensible, and likely to lead to more negligent discharges and more deaths, not fewer deaths. Forcing ignorance on our children is never the answer to a question of education.

The HEART bill would also target youth shooting sports, which are among the fastest growing of all sports in America.

Youth Shooters of America was formed to encourage and educate parents about the benefits of having their children participate in shooting sports. Stephanie Vacca said that her late husband was a fan of YSA shooter Shyanne Roberts (front row, second from left), and that he used her videos to encourage responsible gun use by his children.

All of these highly-trained shooters would be thrown out of their preferred sport by the bait-and-switch HEART bill, which treats common semi-automatic (one shot per trigger pull) rifles used by these young shooters the same as machine guns.

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Senator Markey, Congressman Gallego, and the law firm of Lamber Goodnow seem quite intent on using the death of Charles Vacca to push misleading gun control legislation that would gut firearms safety training for young shooters.

They’re going to put more lives at risk by encouraging ignorance over training, and I frankly know how many gun negligence deaths they are willing to create with such vile legislation.