TIME Laws

Why It’s Legal for a 9-Year-Old to Fire an Uzi

Gun Show Held At Pima County Fairgrounds
People shoot their guns at the Southwest Regional Park shooting range near the Crossroads of the West Gun Show at the Pima County Fairgrounds in Tucson, Ariz. Kevork Djansezian—Getty Images

Questions after the death of a shooting instructor

The deadly shooting in which a nine-year-old girl accidentally killed her firing range instructor with an Uzi on Monday is the kind of incident that seems almost inconceivable. How can someone so young be allowed to fire such a high-powered weapon? The answer: Because she was accompanied by an adult.

“I think you’ll find that state laws provide for those under a certain age, usually 18, to shoot when under adult supervision or instruction,” says Michael Bazinet, a spokesperson for the National Shooting Sports Foundation. “Youth shooting sports are generally extremely safe activities, enjoyed by millions of Americans.”

Bazinet says he knows of no federal legislation that restricts minors from shooting range activities, leaving it up to the states and the ranges themselves to determine who’s too young to shoot.

Bullets and Burgers, a shooting range in the Arizona’s Mojave Desert where the incident took place Monday morning, allows children as young as eight to shoot as long as they’re accompanied by a parent or legal guardian. Under Arizona law, minors as young as 14 can shoot at a range without adult supervision.

The fatal shooting occurred about 10 a.m. Monday morning when Charles Vacca, a 39-year-old firearms instructor, was demonstrating how to fire the gun. The nine-year-old, whose name hasn’t been released but was accompanied by her parents, can be seen taking an initial shot in a video released by authorities. Vacca then appears to switch the gun to automatic. The video shows the gun recoiling as it points toward Vacca, who was shot in the head according to the Mohave County Sheriff’s Office. (That portion is not seen in the video.)

Vacca was pronounced dead Monday evening.

Below is the video released by police, and while it does not depict the moment of the shooting, it may still be disturbing to some viewers; caution is advised.

TIME Guns

9-Year-Old Girl Accidentally Shoots, Kills Instructor at Gun Range

The operator says it allows supervised children age eight and up to handle weapons

A nine-year-old girl accidentally shot and killed a shooting range instructor in Arizona, police say.

Charles Vacca, 39, was instructing the girl on how to use an automatic Uzi on Monday when the girl, who was accompanied by her parents, pulled the trigger and then lost control of the weapon, the Mohave County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement Tuesday. Vacca was shot in the head and died of his injuries.

Sam Scarmardo, the operator of the shooting range Last Stop where the accident occurred, said the range allows accompanied children age eight and older to handle weapons.

He said Vacca, a longtime military veteran, had been working at the range for roughly two years. Scarmardo also said the range had not had an accident since it was opened more than a decade ago.

The girl’s parents were recording the tutorial on their cell phones when the incident occurred and handed the footage over to authorities, according to Scarmardo.

TIME Military

Soldier Dies After Shooting Herself at Fort Lee, Va. Army Base

Security guards open a gate for motorist at the visitor entrance to Fort Lee, Va. on Aug. 25, 2014.
Security guards open a gate for motorist at the visitor entrance to Fort Lee, Va. on Aug. 25, 2014. Steve Helber—AP

No one else was injured

Updated: Aug. 25, 4:57 p.m.

A soldier at the Fort Lee U.S. Army base in Virginia has died after shooting herself in the head Monday morning.

According to the Associated Press, the soldier barricaded herself in an office and was throwing objects while enforcement officials tried to talk her down. She eventually shot herself. It’s unknown whether the soldier suffered from mental health issues.

An earlier statement posted on the U.S. Army Fort Lee Facebook page said the incident sparked a lockdown after reports of a shooter on base.

“Fort Lee first responders responded to a report of a female Soldier with a gun inside the Combined Arms Support Command Headquarters, Bldg. 5020 at approximately 9 a.m. today. Early reports indicate the Soldier turned the weapon on herself and fired one shot, injuring herself,” said the statement.

The base said the shooter had been transferred to Virginia Commonwealth University Medical Center. The army said it would begin an investigation.

The shooting comes just a few months after a soldier at Fort Hood Army base in Texas shot and killed four people and injured several more. That shooter, Army Spc. Ivan Lopez, died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

TIME Guns

NRA Ad Campaign Has Michael Bloomberg in Its Crosshairs

Multimillion-dollar campaign tells billionaire gun control advocate to go back to New York

+ READ ARTICLE

In an effort to combat former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s high profile campaign for stronger gun control, the National Rifle Association is launching a national ad campaign to malign the business magnate and strike back at one of the gun advocacy group’s biggest detractors.

The campaign, which kicks off Wednesday, is part of a multimillion-dollar effort to stir up negative perceptions of the New York billionaire, USA Today reports. Chris Cox, the executive director of the NRA’s Institute for Legislative Action, called Bloomberg “an arrogant hypocrite who thinks he knows best how people should live their lives.”

Bloomberg plans to spend $50 million to build a grassroots network of gun control advocates in order to counter the NRA’s lobbying prowess, and has spent money across the country to defeat candidates who are staunch gun rights advocates.

Americans remain divided on gun control law, according to an Oct. 2013 Gallup poll. Public support for stricter laws covering the sale of firearms fell to 49% after reaching 58% in the wake of the Sandy Hook shootings in which 20 children were killed. A total of 37% say laws should be kept as they are, with 13% wanting more lax regulations.

Gun control advocates say Congress’s failure to pass a measure to restrict the sale of assault weapons and high capacity magazines after the Sandy Hook shootings reflects the NRA’s pervasive influence on Capitol Hill.

An NRA ad will run nationally on cable television and in digital ads in states with key Senate races including Colorado, Iowa, Louisiana, North Carolina and Georgia. “Hey, Bloomberg: Keep your politics in New York. And keep your hands off our guns and our freedom,” says the commercial.

[USA Today]

TIME Law Enforcement

How Electroshock Gun Maker Taser Is Profiting From Crisis in Ferguson

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Taser sean boggs—Getty Images

But at least one analyst says the stun gun manufacturer’s market rally may be overdone

fortunelogo-blue
This post is in partnership with Fortune, which offers the latest business and finance news. Read the article below originally published at Fortune.com.

By Ben Greier

Shares of electroshock gun maker Taser are up 28 percent over the past week amid speculation that the events in Ferguson, Mo., could boost demand for the company’s cameras.

Investors are speculating that following the shooting death of Michael Brown on Aug. 9, the body cameras produced by Taser will soon be de rigueur for police departments nationwide, creating a profit boom for the company.

Not so fast, says one analyst.

“I don’t see that there is going to be a massive deployment everywhere of this,” said Brian Ruttenberg, an analyst and managing director with CRT Capital Group. “And it’s not going to be quick.”

For the rest of the story, please go to Fortune.com.

TIME justice

Two Killed in Georgia Rampage, Including Shooter

Authorities are still trying to piece together why a man shot up a house before stealing and car

A man in northwest Georgia went on a shooting rampage, killing two people including himself.

The man, whose name has not been released by police, is accused of shooting three people at a house in Cartersville, about 40 miles outside Atlanta. One victim was declared dead at the scene and the other two were transported to a nearby hospital. Police say the shooter then fled in a car, which he crashed into a house, the Associated Press reports.

He then broke into the house, shot occupant in the hand, carjacked a vehicle from an elderly man and his grandson and crashed into a truck, police said. The collision caused a fire, whereupon police say the shooter turned the gun on himself. Neither the elderly man nor his grandson were injured in the incident.

Bartow County Sherriff Clark Millsap said the shooter knew his victims and police are investigating the cause of the shootings.

[AP]

TIME Crime

Toddler Shot by 5-Year-Old Boy in Colorado

Boy who found the handgun learned to use it “from video games like Black Ops”

A 3-year-old girl from Colorado is in critical condition after a 5-year-old boy shot her with a gun that was left unattended by the mother’s boyfriend, say Pueblo police.

According to a police statement, the handgun was found by a 9-year-old boy in a home outside of Colorado Springs on Monday. Police say he then gave it to the 5-year-old boy in the backyard, who proceeded to point it at the girl and pull the trigger.

Police asked the 9-year-old boy learned how he learned to “manipulate” the gun, and he apparently told them he “learned it from video games like Black Ops.” The boyfriend of the victim’s mother, 22-year-old Adrian Chavez, fled the scene after the incident but was later taken into custody.

The girl was shot once and the bullet entered and exited her body without breaking any bones. As of Monday afternoon, she was listed in critical but stable condition.

The two boys will not be charged because of their age. However, Chavez will be charged with child abuse resulting in serious bodily injury.

TIME justice

Porch Killing Defendant: ‘I Wasn’t Going to Cower’

Theodore Wafer testifies in his own defense during the seventh day of testimony for the Nov. 2, 2013, killing of Renisha McBride, on Aug. 4, 2014, in Detroit.
Theodore Wafer testifies in his own defense during the seventh day of testimony for the Nov. 2, 2013, killing of Renisha McBride, on Aug. 4, 2014, in Detroit. Clarence Tabb Jr.—AP

(DETROIT) — A suburban Detroit man said Monday that he was afraid when someone showed up on his porch before dawn one morning last year and started banging on his doors, but he wasn’t going to be a victim in his own home.

“I wasn’t going to cower in my house,” Theodore Wafer told jurors at his trial for the Nov. 2 killing of 19-year-old Renisha McBride, who was drunk but unarmed.

Wafer is charged with second-degree murder and could be sentenced to up to life in prison with the chance for parole, if he’s convicted. He says he shot McBride in self-defense, but prosecutors say Wafer could have stayed safely behind his locked doors and called 911 instead of confronting McBride, whom he didn’t know.

Wafer, 55, took the stand on the seventh day of testimony. Legal experts had speculated that he would have to testify in his own defense to convince the jury that he had a reasonable and honest fear for his life that morning.

Softly and methodically, Wafer told the Wayne County Circuit Court jury how he followed loud bangs from his front door to his side door and back to the front again before fetching his 12-gauge shotgun.

He said he opened the front door slightly and saw that the outer, screen door was damaged. He then opened the inner door further and “this person came out from the side of my house so fast. I raised the gun and shot,” he told jurors after taking the stand on the seventh day of testimony.

Wafer also said he thought there could have been more than one person outside of his 1,100-square-foot home near Detroit’s far west side. He said he pulled the trigger “to defend myself. It was them or me.”

When police arrived, McBride lay in a pool of blood just off the porch.

In the immediate aftermath of the shooting, some questioned whether race may have been a factor. Wafer is white and McBride was black, and some likened the killing to that of Florida teenager Trayvon Martin. But race faded as an issue and wasn’t mentioned as a factor by prosecutors or defense attorneys during court hearings that preceded the trial.

Earlier in the trial, prosecutors played a recording of Wafer telling an officer that he didn’t know the gun was loaded. They contend that Wafer didn’t need to use deadly force against McBride

An autopsy found McBride’s blood-alcohol level was about 0.22, which is nearly three times Michigan’s legal limit for driving. About 3½ hours before Wafer killed her, McBride crashed her car into a parked vehicle on a Detroit street about half away.

Occasionally rubbing the right side of his head and speaking with his eyes closed, Wafer testified that he couldn’t afford to install a security system at his home, so he bought the shotgun about six years ago to help him defend it. Wafer also said the neighborhood had changed greatly since he bought the house in 1994.

Earlier Monday, a firearms expert testified for the defense that Wafer and McBride were both apparently standing close to his screen door when he shot her through it, killing her.

Retired state Trooper David Balash said the hole in the door made by the shotgun blast shows it was near the door when he fired it. He said the buckshot wounds on McBride’s body show she was standing near the door when Wafer shot her last fall.

“My opinion is she was very close to the door … within a foot,” Balash told the jury.

It is not clear how or why she showed up on Wafer’s porch. They didn’t know each other.

Prosecutors played a Wafer’s videotaped interview with police after the shooting before ending testimony Monday afternoon. He is expected back on the stand Tuesday morning.

TIME Crime

Detroit 8-Year-Old Shot Dead in His Sleep

Jakari Pearson was killed in the early hours of Wednesday morning

An eight-year-old boy was fatally shot Wednesday whilst sleeping in his Detroit home, the Detroit News reports. Police are interviewing a man identified as a “person of interest.”

Jakari Pearson was killed in the early hours of the morning in his bed in Detroit’s near east side. The Detroit Police Department said shots were fired around 1.15am into the home.

Pearson was hit once in the upper body and taken to a nearby hospital where he was pronounced dead on arrival. His mother was also wounded, though her condition is unknown. Family at the site of the shooting said the gunman may have been a former partner of the boy’s mother.

“The person we are talking to has not been arrested or been identified as a suspect in the shooting,” a Detroit Police spokesperson said. “He’s nothing more than a person of interest in this case and is being interviewed.”

The spokesperson, Sgt. Michael Woody added: “We have a pretty good idea of who it is that we are looking for… We hope the community continues to talk to us and feeds us information so we can track this individual down and get him into custody very quickly.”

[The Detroit News]

 

TIME Gun Control

Judge Strikes Down D.C. Handgun Ban

The ban on carrying handguns outside the home is unconstitutional, he says

The District of Columbia’s ban on carrying guns outside of one’s home is unconstitutional and violates the Second Amendment, a federal judge has ruled.

In a decision shared Saturday, U.S. District Judge Frederick J. Scullin said the D.C.’s ban violated citizens’ right to self-defense, the Associated Press reports.

“There is no longer any basis on which this court can conclude that the District of Columbia’s total ban on the public carrying of ready-to-use handguns outside the home is constitutional under any level of scrutiny,” Scullin wrote.

After a 2008 U.S. Supreme Court decision ended the city’s long-standing handgun ban, D.C. created new laws that required gun owners to, among other precautions, keep the weapons only inside their homes and register them again every three years. A federal judge upheld the controversial restrictions in a May ruling.

Explaining his decision, Scullin cited the 2008 opinion as well as a 2010 ruling regarding a ban on handguns in Chicago.

A spokesperson for the D.C.’s Office of the Attorney General said the district was “studying the opinion” but declined to “comment on its substance.” The AP also cited an unnamed city official who said the city would ask for a stay and was considering an appeal.

[AP]

 

 

 

 

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