Mel Robbins: Gun instructor's death raises absurd question: Should kids fire Uzis?
She says of course not! If kids learn about guns, should be in controlled safe environment
Robbins: What parent would put such a gun in a kid's hands and how could gun range allow it?
She says giving kids under 18 access to a submachine gun should be illegal
Editor’s Note: Mel Robbins is a CNN commentator and legal analyst. She is the founder of Inspire52.com, a news and entertainment site for women, and author of “Stop Saying You’re Fine,” about managing change. She speaks on leadership around the world and in 2014 was named outstanding news talk radio host by the Gracie Awards. Follow her on Twitter @melrobbins. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.
A 9-year-old girl accidentally killed a shooting instructor with an Uzi on Monday, authorities in Arizona said, and now the world is asking itself an absolutely absurd question: Should a fourth-grader be legally allowed to shoot an Uzi? The only answer to that question is: Hell fricking NO – it should be against the law.
Understand, I love shooting guns and so do my kids. My favorite gun is a 12-gauge over/under shotgun. Our teenage daughters prefer a .22 because it’s easier to aim and control. Other than hooking a large brown trout, there’s nothing more thrilling in my book than pulling the trigger on a shotgun and managing to hit a target.
But this is not a shotgun. This is a fully automatic machine gun developed by the Israeli army. It is capable of firing 600 to 650 bullets a minute.
As this Uzi pumps out 10 bullets a second, the kickback is substantial. It is designed to be fired by a soldier during war, not a fourth-grader on vacation. It’s too powerful, it’s too big and it’s too deadly. Many adult novices can’t control that weapon.
The Mohave County Sheriff, Jim McCabe, said the full video of the incident was, as one might imagine, “ghastly.”
This, of course, isn’t the little girl’s fault; was it even her idea to shoot an Uzi in the first place? It’s the instructor and the parents who are to blame – I mean, what could possibly go wrong if you hand an Uzi with the selector on fully automatic mode to a 9-year-old? For anyone who asks “What were they thinking?” the answer is: They weren’t. That’s why the law needs to change – to protect kids from adult stupidity.
This all seems particularly senseless to me because just two weeks ago on our own family vacation, we introduced our own 9-year-old to the joys of target shooting and the responsibility of gun safety. Here’s a photo of our son, supervised by instructors and with my father behind him on his first day at the range.
Notice what’s happening. He’s sitting down, so he can absorb any kick. He’s got on safety glasses and sound protection. The gun is resting against a table and the strap of the gun has been put around a railing on the table to hold it down. Why do you take these precautions? Because when you introduce kids to the sport of shooting guns, you are taking on a great responsibility.
This 9-year-old girl isn’t the only child to kill someone with an Uzi. An 8-year-old boy in Massachusetts killed himself a few years ago when he fired an Uzi at a gun show, while supervised by his own father. The gun kicked up on the boy, and he shot himself in the head.
The laws didn’t change in Massachusetts, and I’m sure the National Rifle Association will see to it that they don’t change in Arizona. But they should. Arizona laws require a person to be at least 21 years old to carry a firearm, but the laws do not apply on private property or if the minor is accompanied by a parent or certified instructor.
Kids can’t drive until they’re 16, vote, chew tobacco or smoke until they’re 18, or drink until they’re 21. No child should have access to firing a fully automatic weapon until the age of 18. And gun ranges should know better than to hand one to a novice shooter passing through on vacation, let alone one as young as 9.
The tragedy took place at Bullets and Burgers, where the website states “At our range, you can shoot FULL auto on our machine guns. Let ‘em Rip!”
If you care about justice and about the values that our country was founded upon, you will feel sickened by the grand jury’s decision not to indict NYPD Officer Daniel Pantaleo in the choking death of Eric Garner in Staten Island.