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Common sense required around firearms

My Opinion
Ross Schulz, Staff Writer

The tragic story of the 9-year old girl fatally shooting her firearm instructor with an Uzi in Arizona is one that could have easily been avoided.
Coming from someone who’s as pro-gun as they come, I couldn’t wrap my head around the idea of a 9-year-old wanting, or being allowed, to shoot a submachine gun.
A quick Internet search shows the Uzi has found use as a personal defense weapon by rear-echelon troops, officers, artillery troops and tankers, as well as a front-line weapon by elite light infantry assault forces.
For about three decades (1960s through 1980s), more Uzi submachine guns were sold to more military, law enforcement and security markets than any other submachine gun ever made.
Makes sense.
But in what world does a 9-year-old need to fire one?
The girl isn’t to be blamed; that falls on the shoulders of the parents, gun-range officials and even the instructor.
While the gun isn’t extremely large, by any means (it weighs about 8 pounds and is less than 20 inches long), it obviously packs a powerful punch with a recoil that could be too much for someone so young and small.
Paul Barrett of Bloomberg Businessweek said it nicely: ‘In many American families, guns are a part of growing up, and learning to fire a rifle needn’t be any more dangerous than learning to drive a car within the speed limit. Both require careful supervision and a degree of maturity. Both require risk-benefit analysis better performed by adults. It might be cute to see a 9-year-old driving the family sedan, but I wouldn’t want to be sitting in the passenger seat or standing nearby.’
A more proper analogy for an Uzi would be putting a 9-year-old in the driver’s seat of the family sedan with a stuck accelerator.
Gun ownership and learning to shoot can be a great lesson in responsibility, self-defense and camaraderie among peers. Not to mention, there aren’t many activities or hobbies as much fun as shooting guns. Benefits abound in learning to shoot and handle guns, even for children. First and foremost, protection, but guns also teach and improve hand-eye coordination and enhance a child’s ‘ or anyone’s ‘ ability to focus. All that can be done with simpler, easier to handle firearms.
A certain nostalgia exists with guns in this country as well, related to the wild west. This is the country of Annie Oakley, the sharpshooter who toured with Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show and could split a playing card from 90 feet and fill it with several more holes before it hit the ground using a .22 caliber rifle. It’s cool to be able to line up and shoot at targets like they did. And, of course, hunting (with deer season fast approaching) will always be popular in our area as well as in other places throughout the nation.
Wholesale changes in gun laws is not the answer. But a little tweaking couldn’t hurt, especially when it comes to children.
The shooting range where last week’s tragedy occurred has now changed its policy, stating that a person must be at least 12 years old before they can fire a submachine gun.
After an 8-year-old Connecticut boy accidentally killed himself in 2008 with an Uzi, again because of the recoil, the state passed a law the following year prohibiting anyone younger than 16 from using machine guns.
No one should fight that law.
Government shouldn’t have to enact such a law because that falls so far within the bounds of common sense that a law shouldn’t have to be created.
But, apparently, common sense isn’t readily used by some folks.