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The four-hour tours offered by one of the big gun ranges here are a popular tourist attraction. Starting at $200 a person, a bus will pick up visitors at their hotel in Las Vegas, 25 miles to the north, show them Hoover Dam and bring them to a recreational shooting range called Last Stop, where they can fire the weapons of their dreams: automatic machine guns, sniper rifles, grenade launchers. A hamburger lunch is included; a helicopter tour of the nearby Grand Canyon is optional.

But on Monday, one family’s adventure went horribly wrong. A 9-year-old girl from New Jersey accidentally shot and killed her instructor with an Uzi submachine gun while he stood to her left side, trying to guide her. A video of the shooting, which her parents recorded on a cellphone, suggests that the girl, in pink shorts and with a braided ponytail, was unable to control the gun’s recoil; the instructor, Charles Vacca, 39, was rushed to a hospital in Las Vegas, where he died Monday night.

The parents turned over the cellphone video to the sheriff’s department, which released it publicly. As they spread online and on television, the images of a small girl losing control of a powerful war weapon during a family vacation created a worldwide spectacle, prompting some commentators to castigate parents who would put a submachine gun in the hands of a child.

“What in the name of Jesus is wrong with us, Americans?” one person wrote on the TripAdvisor page for Bullets and Burgers, the tour company that brings people to Last Stop, amid other reviewers who raved about the great time they had firing guns there. “Automatic weapons as toys? And now a man is dead, for no reason, and a 9-year-old girl is scarred for life.”

Some gun owners took to Twitter to defend the practice of letting children use firearms and pointed out that it is both legal and commonplace in the Las Vegas area and elsewhere. But even the owner of the Last Stop, Sam Scarmardo, said he would reconsider the practice in light of Monday’s accident. He said he had been in business 14 years and had never had a problem before.

“It is pretty standard in the industry to let children shoot on the range,” Mr. Scarmardo said in an interview. “We are working with the Mohave County Sheriff’s Office, and we’ll make a decision if we’ll make any changes after we review all the facts.”

Mr. Scarmardo said that the girl’s parents “were very familiar with weapons” and that Mr. Vacca and a tour guide had driven the family to the shooting range from their hotel in Las Vegas.

“We lost a friend — basically we lost a brother — we are all very close, we are a tightknit organization and community,” Mr. Scarmardo said. “Everyone here at Last Stop is either former military or police officer. We are all highly trained in firearms and safety.”

There is nothing illegal about a girl handling an Uzi. In Arizona, there are no age limits for firing guns, and while federal law prohibits people under 18 from possessing a handgun, there are exceptions for shooting ranges, said Laura Cutilletta, senior staff attorney at the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, a legal nonprofit that works to strengthen gun laws.

Some ranges in the area do prohibit young children from handling such heavy weapons, but Last Stop allows children as young as 8 to participate. Bullets and Burgers said on its website that customers could “shoot a wide variety of fully automatic machine and belt fed guns including the AK-47, Colt M-16, MP5/40, FN FAL, Bren, M4, M249, M60, PKM and M203 Grenade Launcher.”

But Uzis are considered particularly tricky because they are light — unloaded, they weigh just under eight pounds — and powerful, making recoil tricky to handle even for adults, gun experts said. Designed for the Israeli military in the 1950s, Uzis are known for their simple design and operation, and they have been featured extensively in popular movies and video games.

“We allow children to shoot, but not a fully automatic Uzi,” said Genghis Cohen, owner of an indoor shooting range, Machine Guns Vegas. He called the shooting on Monday tragic, but added, “It was completely and utterly avoidable.”

“It was just a result of a lapse of attention,” Mr. Cohen said, “but I would never let a girl of that size shoot a fully automatic gun of that size — never.”

The New York Times, "A 9-Year-Old At a Shooting Range, A Spraying Uzi, and Outrage."

Everyone, from the irresponsible parents who allowed their daughter to even pick up and fire a gun, to the owners of the business who also allowed a nine-year-old to pick up and fire said gun, is responsible for this needless tragedy.

And more silence from the NRA, BTW.

My biggest frustration so far is the fact that this society has not been willing to take some basic steps to keep guns out of the hands of people who can do just unbelievable damage. … We’re the only developed country on Earth where this happens. And it happens, now, once a week. And it’s a one-day story. There’s no place else like this.

… I have been in Washington for a while now, and most things don’t surprise me. The fact that 20 six-year-olds were gunned down (at Sandy Hook Elementary) and this town couldn’t do anything about it was stunning to me.

… The country has to do some soul-searching about this. This is becoming the norm, and we take it for granted in ways that, as a parent, are terrifying to me. I am prepared to work with anybody — including responsible sportsmen and gun owners — to craft some solutions, but right now, it’s not possible to get even the mildest restrictions through Congress, and we should be ashamed of that.

PRESIDENT OBAMA, on the (perhaps willing) inability of Congress to address gun violence, at yesterday’s Tumblr town hall in Washington, DC.

There have been 74 school shootings since the Sandy Hook massacre in 2012.

The NRA and its members shrug.

(via)

“The incident is contained; the shooter is deceased. We are now working on re-unifying students with their parents.”

POLICE OFFICIAL in Troutdale, Oregon, discussing the aftermath of yet another school shooting, at Reynolds High School in a suburb of Portland; the gunman is dead and “others are injured.”

Or, as the NRA calls it, a nuisance.

(quote via CNN)

Recently, demonstrators have been showing up in various public places, including coffee shops and fast food restaurants, openly toting a variety of tactical long guns. Unlicensed open carry of handguns is legal in about half the U.S. states, and it is relatively common and uncontroversial in some places.

Yet while unlicensed open carry of long guns is also typically legal in most places, it is a rare sight to see someone sidle up next to you in line for lunch with a 7.62 rifle slung across his chest, much less a whole gaggle of folks descending on the same public venue with similar arms.

Let’s not mince words, not only is it rare, it’s downright weird and certainly not a practical way to go normally about your business while being prepared to defend yourself. To those who are not acquainted with the dubious practice of using public displays of firearms as a means to draw attention to oneself or one’s cause, it can be downright scary. It makes folks who might normally be perfectly open-minded about firearms feel uncomfortable and question the motives of pro-gun advocates.

The National Rifle Association amazingly told open-carry gun nuts to tone it down a bit.  (via Mediaite)

Why did Chris die? Chris died because of craven, irresponsible politicians, and the NRA. They talk about gun rights. What about Chris’s right to live?

… When will enough people say, ‘Stop this madness’? We don’t have to live like this. Too many have died. We should say to ourselves, ‘Not one more!’

RICHARD MARTINEZ, father of Christopher Michaels-Martinez, one of six victims of a mass murdering gunman in Goleta, California; the assailant killed himself following a shootout with police.

The NRA will treat this gun murder as it treats every other gun murder: like a nuisance.

(via the New York Daily News)

A series of drive-by shootings in the Isla Vista area near UC Santa Barbara on Friday night left seven people dead, including a man believed to have carried out the attacks, and seven injured.

The man believed to be the shooter was found dead inside his vehicle with a gunshot wound after engaging in two separate gunfights with deputies, the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s office said. It’s unknown if the gunshot was self-inflicted or if the suspect was shot by authorities.

The deadly shooting spree started at 9:27 p.m. in Isla Vista. As deputies were tending to the injured in the first round of shootings, reports of gunfire in several other areas of the college community were reported.

Six minutes after the first 911 call came in, the unidentified man began shooting at deputies, who returned fire. He fled and seconds later was spotted by another deputy, prompting another firefight.

He then took off down Del Playa Drive and crashed into a parked vehicle, the sheriff’s office said. When deputies approached the vehicle they discovered the man was dead and recovered a semi-automatic handgun.

He has been preliminary identified, but his name hasn’t been released pending positive identification, authorities said. Investigators believe he acted alone and they’re currently analyzing video and written evidence that suggests the killings were premeditated.

The seven injured people are being treated for gunshot wounds or traumatic injuries; their conditions are unknown. At least one of them has undergone surgery.

The identities of the six people killed, possibly by the suspected shooter, are not being released until next of kin are notified.

The Los Angeles Times, "Seven Dead In Drive-By Shootings Near UC Santa Barbara."

Yes, let’s not do anything about guns.

A shooting Wednesday night left at least one person dead and at least 14 others wounded at Fort Hood, the sprawling Army facility that in 2009 was the site of the deadliest mass shootings ever at an American military base, law enforcement officials said.

There were conflicting reports of whether the gunman was dead. One senior federal law enforcement official said the gunman was a member of the military and had been killed. Another official said the gunman “has been neutralized,” although he would not say whether that meant he had been killed or was under arrest. Military officials would not confirm the status of the gunman.

The Fort Hood Press Center said that the injured were being treated at the Carl R. Darnall Medical Center on the post and at other local hospitals.

The shooting that sent Fort Hood in Killeen, Tex., into a lockdown sparked a massive police response and brought back memories of the deadly rampage there in November 2009. On Nov. 5, 2009, Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan opened fire inside the Soldier Readiness Processing Center, shooting unarmed soldiers and commissioned officers as they tried to hide under desks and tables. Major Hasan, a Muslim military psychiatrist, shot and killed 12 unarmed soldiers and one civilian while wounding or shooting at 30 other soldiers and two police officers.

The New York Times, "Fort Hood Shooting Leaves One Dead, 14 Injured."

Jesus Christ.