After Arizona gun instructor is accidently shot and killed by 9-year old student last month, a leading firearms and self-defense expert and trainer told Guns & Patriots the push for federal age regulations is a mistake.
“Chronological age is a poor determining factor for access to firearms,” said Rob Pincus, owner and operator of I.C.E. Firearm Training Services. ICE is a full service company offering training and consulting to armed professionals and those interested in self-defense.
For someone to use a gun of any kind, training is determined by physical strength and mental maturity, said Pincus, who is a founding member of the Association of Defensive Shooting Instructors. “Physical ability and intellectual maturity are subjective factors independent of age.”
The hasty gun-control reaction to enforce legislative age requirements based upon the poor decision-making of one individual is typical, but unnecessary, he said. “Many are fixated on the age of the girl involved. Yet, there are plenty of adults who I would not trust with an Uzi or whom are not physically capable of controlling one.”
Shooting instructor Charles Vacca, 39, was fatally shot Aug. 25 at Last Stop shooting range in Dolan Springs, Ariz., by a 9-year old girl, who was with her parents, who lost control of the machine gun he handed her to fire. Almost immediately after she started shooting the muzzle flew around wildly and the girl shot the instructor in the head at about 9 a.m. Vacca was airlifted to a medical center in Las Vegas and pronounced dead at or around 9 p.m., said the Mohave County Sheriff’s office in a statement.
The law enforcement agency said their investigation indicated that Vacca, who was standing next to the girl when the accident happened, was instructing her how to use an automatic Uzi. The girl pulled the trigger and when the recoil sent the gun over her head, the victim was shot.
“Unfortunately, the guy running the range put himself in a poor position in regard to his own safety and, most importantly, put the girl in a poor shooting position in regard to managing recoil,” said Pincus, who is co-author with Armed American Radio host Mark Walters of the book “Lessons From UNarmed America.”
Instructors ought to know that inexperienced students have special safety needs and concerns, he said. “Those who put themselves in a position to teach or supervise the use of firearms by novices need to be equipped with the ability to help people use their bodies as efficiently as possible to control the gun and the foresight to be able to predict common potential problems before dangerous moments are created.”
This is not something that occurs frequently, however, said the former law enforcement officer. “This incident represents a gross anomaly.”
There was a series of errors that led to tragedy, said Richard J. Feldman, president of New Hampshire-based Independent Firearm Owners Association. “It’s like an airplane crash,” he said. IFOA promotes safe and responsible firearms ownership as guaranteed by the Second Amendment while supporting effective solutions for complex issues.
There are no 100 percent guarantees, said Feldman. “If we look at the mistakes, we can make it a preventable issue.” There is not just one thing that went wrong, said the former National Rifle Association attorney. “There is a compilation of problems to be addressed.”
Making it a crime for children to train with firearms is not the answer, he said. In the same manner that roller coasters have height and weight standards, not age requirements, in order to ride them, he said training with a firearm is determined by those factors, as well.
The NRA offers an online course in range development and operations designed to educate potential and current range owners and operators in identifying potential problems associated with range development, environmental issues, and safety.