Kickback: Understanding the force of an Uzi

CLEVELAND -- To buy an automatic weapon in Ohio requires an extensive background check with special taxes. They are sold only by a licensed Class III dealer.

But if you have access, using one is completely legal. And it's legal at any age.

No charges will be filed in a death of a shooting instructor, accidentally shot and killed on an Arizona shooting range. His student was a nine-year-old girl, shooting an Uzi sub-machine gun in full automatic mode.

39-year-old Charles Vacca died Monday.

ORIGINAL STORY: 9-year-old girl accidentally shoots instructor with Uzi

A spokesperson for the Mohave County Sheriff's Department confirms the shooting has been classified as an industrial accident. But it's raised a debate about what's right when it comes to teaching children about guns.

"This is a military firearm, basically," said Senior Special Agent Bill Hall, who works out of the Cleveland office of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, or ATF.

And as a firearms instructor, SA Hall agreed to show us the force of an Uzi.

"It's made for one pull of the trigger to shoot multiple rounds," said Hall. "It's designed for 600 rounds per minute, so one pull of the trigger and this thing is emptying out a magazine."

Under federal law, a person has to be 21 years old before they can legally buy a handgun. But they only have to be 18 to buy a long gun, like a hunting rifle.

There are no age restrictions on when a parent can begin to teach their children how to use firearms, or what privately owned shooting ranges might allow.

Under federal code 18 U.S.C. 922(x)(3), there are certain exceptions where a person under 18-years-old is allowed to temporarily possess a handgun. They are 1) in the course of employment, 2) in the course of ranching or farming at the juvenile's residence, 3) target practice, 4) hunting or 5) during a course of instruction in the safe and lawful use of a handgun. In these cases the juvenile must have prior written consent from their parent or guardian and keep that written consent on them while conducting their activity.

Minors under supervision are also exempted from the laws proposed under Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson's ambitious gun control package currently being considered by city council.

"While the proposed ordinance if enacted prohibits leaving a firearm so as to allow access to the firearm by a person under 18 years of age, it exempts instruction in firearm safety, care, handling or marksmanship under the supervision and control of a responsible adult," said Maureen Harper, the mayor's chief of communications, wrote in an email to WKYC.

"If people aren't familiar with this firearm, the firearm will rise as you're shooting it," said Hall. "If you take your hands off the fore grip, that weapon can go anywhere."

Hall says ATF agents learn to use an Uzi so they can recognize it and disable it in the course of investigations. Their firearms training helps them to become familiar with the kickback.

"It's not going to knock me back as if to say a juvenile," said Hall of the Uzi's recoil. "You have to be familiar with this weapon, you have to be familiar with how this weapon fires in order to fire it properly."

The gun has a surprisingly compact feel, and weighs about eight pounds. It's design is one you might recognize, used extensively in movies and video games, such as Call of Duty.

"This particular firearm, it looks innocuous, something that you see every day in a department store, so some people might think, it's nothing I can shoot it," said Hall.

"This is not a toy, and some people automatically assume that it is a toy. But on the business end of this gun, it will kill you. And you have to treat it with respect."

Follow WKYC's Sara Shookman on Twitter: @SaraShookman


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