No doubt you remember. Last August, a 9-year old girl lost control of a mini Uzi. She killed her shooting range instructor at Bullets and Burgers. It was a horrible accident. At the time, this sensationalized Arizona gun story was made out to bigger and deeper than the nearby Grand Canyon.
No doubt your remember. A rapid fire, highly public debate and race to assign blame quickly spread around the world. The story was everywhere in the media. It was talked about in water cooler conversations from Arizona to New York City and back. How could this happen? Should a 9-year old girl have been holding a loaded mini Uzi in the first place? What in the world wrong with Bullets and Burgers? What’s wrong with Arizona? What’s wrong with gun laws? And more, right?
Now here’s the end of the story which will never get as much attention. It won’t even come close. It’s news, but won’t be to everyone.
The state agency responsible for investigating workplace fatalities has just released its findings. The Arizona Department of Occupational Safety and Health (ADOSH) has concluded it discovered no serious violations at the Bullets and Burgers gun range in White Hills, Arizona. The facility is located in rural Mohave County, actually not far from Las Vegas, Nevada. Following a thorough investigation, the business was cited for 5 “non-serious” violations…all of which were unrelated to the fatal shooting.
39-year old Charles Vacca, of Lake Havasu City, Arizona, was the Bullets and Burgers range instructor killed on August 25, 2014 by the young girl. Edited video of the incident went viral online and in traditional media around the world. It showed the experienced range instructor switching the mini Uzi to “full-auto.” After he did, the girl quickly lost control of the gun. Sadly, it recoiled over her shoulder and was fired directly at Vacca at point blank range.
From a legal perspective, the investigation by the Mohave County Sheriff’s Department ruled the death at Bullets and Burgers an accident. After it concluded its report, the Sheriff’s Office followed protocol and handed over its investigation to the State of Arizona.
A recent board meeting of the Industrial Commission of Arizona, ADOSH director William Warren told the commission the Bullets and Burgers gun range, had made safety improvement changes since the accident. Now, children as young as 8 years old are free to fire weapons at the range. However, they must now be accompanied by an adult.
Many have accused the 9-year old girl’s family and Vacca for being irresponsible. Vacca has been criticized for not firing the weapon himself at first in a demonstration for the girl. However, the range instructors only teach proper stance and how to hold a weapon. They do not demonstrate by firing it.
According to the minutes of the Industrial Commission of Arizona meeting, its Chairman, David Parker, explained the Bullets and Burgers accident this way, “This is not a gun rights issue. The problem is with supplying a firearm to a small child that can easily get out of control.”