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Sunday 21 September 2014

'How could they give a child a gun to someone so young?' - Irishman used instructor who was killed by girl (9)

Published 28/08/2014 | 11:23

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An Irishman who enjoyed a day at the firing range in Arizona which has become embroiled in controversy after a nine-year-old girl accidentally killed an instructor with an Uzi submachine gun was shocked the child was allowed to use the weapon.

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Pat O'Toole from Trim in co Meath enjoyed a day out at the Last Stop range, where the tragic events played out yesterday, nine days ago while in Las Vegas to celebrate his daughter's wedding.

Last night, a video of the lesson was released to the public, minus the moment when the heavy kick of the military-grade weapon apparently causes the girl to spin around and fire bullets into Mr Vacca.

"All right, go ahead and give me one shot," Mr Vacca tells the girl in the video, cheering when his pupil fires one round on target.

"All right, full auto," Mr Vacca says, indicating she should change a setting to allow the gun to fire 600 bullets per minute. The video then fades even though the sound of the bullets being fired can be heard.

Mr O'Toole told Ryan Tubridy on 2FM this morning that he couldn't believe that a child so young had been given the Uzi.

"I was standing where that girl was standing and you could see where he placed her left leg forward, he did the same with us. Teaching us how to hold the gun properly because there was going to be a recoil," Mr O'Toole, who is experienced with guns, said.

"He set the gun and he gives you one shot and once you pull the one shot that’s grand and then he said ‘now I’m going to put this on automatic.

"When he puts it on automatic it actually pushes you back. If you could imagine a fireman’s hose and the pressure that comes out of it.

"They were adamant that you don’t shoot up or down because you could shoot an aircraft or anything.

"Everything was done on safety and the man was saying he has a 100pc record, never had a problem.

"I can’t understand how they would give it to someone that young.

"Even a single handgun there is a push back from it.

"I couldn’t believe how they could hand a gun to that young one."

That guns and children don't mix has been a key message of the gun control lobby for years. This latest incident raises several issues, including why the range didn't have age limits for firing weapons.

Pat explained that Mr Vacca was very safety conscious and that he had really enjoyed his day at the range.

"All the way out this fellow, he’s actually an ex-soldier, gave us a talk about safety, safety, safety. We had to fill in forms and that’s how I couldn’t understand this," he added.

"We had to pick out the guns we were going to use, he was seriously organised. Everything was done with military prescision.

"The first thing he does is go through the safety procedure again. He’d show you how to use it, he’d put your leg forward and that’s exactly the same way he showed that little girl, it was the same fella.

"I’ve photographs and I even have the targets. He gave me the targets when we finished to see what way he shot.

"He was a really nice fellow, a really sound guy. We’d great fun."

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