Range Owner: Uzi Death Was First-Ever Accident

Bullets and Burgers reopens shooting range

By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff

Posted Aug 28, 2014 3:04 AM CDT

(Newser) – The Last Stop outdoor shooting range at Bullets and Burgers in Arizona is open for business again, days after a deadly accident that made headlines around the world. A 9-year-old girl firing an Uzi accidentally killed an instructor at the range Monday, but the owner says that was the first accident in the range's 14-year history. In that time, "we've probably had 100,000 people shoot 5 million rounds of ammunition, and of those, 1,000 to 2,000 of them were children," he tells the New York Times. "We've never given out a Band-Aid; no one's never even got a scratch." He describes instructor Charles Vacca, who was fatally shot when the girl lost control of the weapon, as a highly trained veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan who was still in the Army Reserve.

The owner tells the Las Vegas Review-Journal he is aware the case has sparked fierce debate on gun issues, but he describes detractors as "the ones that are sitting downstairs in their mom's basement with their fuzzy slippers and bathrobe and dirty underwear ... because they just hate everything so much." Even some fellow gun-range owners are critical, however, saying they would never have allowed a petite 9-year-old girl to handle a weapon that powerful. The girl was from New Jersey, but Genghis Cohen, owner of a Las Vegas shooting range, tells the AP that many customers who want to fire automatic weapons are tourists from overseas. "They see guns as a big part of American culture, and they want to experience American culture," says Cohen, who is installing a tethering system to stop machine guns from rising up as they fire, like the Uzi did in the accident that killed Vacca.

Firing range instructor Charles Vacca, left, is seen with the 9-year-old moments before the deadly accident.
Firing range instructor Charles Vacca, left, is seen with the 9-year-old moments before the deadly accident.   (AP Photo/Mohave County Sheriff Department)
A man closes off an entrance to the Last Stop outdoor shooting range in White Hills, Ariz., yesterday.
A man closes off an entrance to the Last Stop outdoor shooting range in White Hills, Ariz., yesterday.   (AP Photo/John Locher)
An employee smokes outside of an office for the Last Stop outdoor shooting range in White Hills, Ariz.
An employee smokes outside of an office for the Last Stop outdoor shooting range in White Hills, Ariz.   (AP Photo/John Locher)
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