Friday, September 5, 2014

Reasons No 9-Year-Old Should Shoot an Uzi

This column originally appeared in The Sun Chronicle on Friday, September 5, 2014
By Bill Gouveia

When a nine-year-old girl recently lost control of an Uzi while taking shooting instruction at a place called “Bullets and Burgers” just outside Las Vegas and accidentally killed said instructor, the question popped into my mind:  Should nine-year-olds really be allowed to shoot Uzis?


After long and careful consideration (approximately .00001 seconds), I came down on the side of believing youngsters of that age should not be allowed to shoot an automatic weapon for fun, or pretty much any other reason.  Then I thought about how some pro-gun folks might consider me to be biased against gun ownership.


 And I realized something many of them have not – that allowing a nine-year-old to shoot an Uzi or similar type weapon is sheer stupidity and has absolutely nothing to do with the debate over gun ownership and control.


So in the spirit of illustrating that point, I developed the following list:  Seven Reasons Why Allowing a Nine-Year-Old to Shoot An Uzi is Nuts.


1.     If you aren’t old enough to babysit, you shouldn’t shoot an automatic weapon.  If someone is too young to take care of others, he or she is too young to have an Uzi in their hands.  Pretty simple, huh?


2.    Giving a small child an automatic weapon is a danger not only to them, but those around them.  Remember, this poor girl didn’t physically injure herself, but her instructor was killed.  When we decide to let our children shoot automatic weapons for fun or sport, our responsibility to others should trump our right to arm children.


3.    Laws banning children from shooting automatic weapons like Uzis are in no possible way a violation of the 2nd Amendment.  Anyone who makes this argument should be ashamed of themselves.  You have a right to bring your children up however you wish.  But you have no right to endanger the lives of those around you in doing so.  Uzis are not a parental decision, they are killing machines.  They should be treated as such.


4.    Your nine-year-old is not allowed to drive a car, so they should not be allowed to shoot an automatic weapon.  And please – spare me the drivel about kids in that general age range who drive vehicles in competition.  There is no place in this country that legally allows these kids to drive on our public roads.  If you allow a child of nine to shoot an Uzi, it is the equivalent of allowing that same child to drive an 18-wheel rig down Route 95. 


5.    Allowing a nine-year-old to shoot this type of weapon is a totally selfish act.  In the minds of extreme gun advocates, this is about stopping and preventing gun control laws.  Some misguided souls believe banning nine-year-olds from shooting Uzis is the first step towards making them unavailable to anyone and taking away their guns.  If you are willing to use your own children as a political pawn at the risk of their safety, I feel sorry for you – and even sorrier for them.


6.    The argument that some nine-year-olds who receive expert instruction are capable of handling an Uzi is crazy.  Sure, there might be a really strong kid who can handle the recoil and perform all the safety steps accurately and repeatedly.  But they would also have to be blessed with the maturity to handle an accident and the stress that follows it.  I don’t care if you have him/her supervised by a certified firearm instructor, the NRA Board of Directors, and the FBI.  They are still too young.


7.    We are not talking about pellet guns or .22 caliber weapons here, but rather an Uzi which fires 600 rounds per minute.  Think about that for just a second – 600 bullets per minute.  In the hands of a nine-year-old.  A kid probably in the third grade.  That is not a decision that should be left to the mother or father.  That is nothing short of sheer idiocy.


As a society we can’t pass laws that prevent bad parental choices.  But we have and must continue to pass laws that keep automatic weapons out of the hands of children.  And that opinion is not because I am anti-gun.


It’s because I am pro-children.


Bill Gouveia is a local columnist and longtime local official.  He can be emailed at and followed on Twitter at @Billinsidelook.

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