By now, everyone seems to have seen the horrifying video of the 9-year-old girl whose rented Uzi 9mm submachinegun gets away from her and – an instant after the public consumption version of the video is mercifully cut short – discharges a fatal bullet through the brain of the adult male instructor standing on her left. At first look, I could see that she didn’t have a strong stance and didn’t appear to have a firm grasp. Nature and physics took their course.

Dan Baum, the author of “Gun Guys,” the open-minded book about modern “gun culture” in America, wrote the following for ime. I think everyone needs to read it.
Deepest condolences to all involved, including the family of the deceased instructor, and the child who will have to bear this psychological scar for as long as she lives.
There are lessons here…


  1. A nine-year-old with an Uzi is bizarre. The father should have waited until she was thirteen. There are so many guns in this country (a good thing) and so many new shooters, I am surprised we haven’t heard about more negligent discharges. Certainly firearm instructors are doing a great job, and many people are learning to safely handle firearms. I hope this trend continues.

  2. I was showing my grandson my .45 cap and ball revolver and he wanted to try firing it, he was 11 years old at the time, so I handed him the revolver and the weight pulled it down and he pulled the trigger. If I had loaded the thing he would have shot my foot. The point is, some children are ready for shooting and some aren’t. It’s up to the adult to make that decision and do whatever it takes to make it safe. I have since taught the boy how to handle a firearm safely and wouldn’t hesitate to hand him a loaded firearm now.

  3. Giving a loaded full-auto Uzi to a small, untrained, inexperienced, 8 year old girl to shoot is about as irresponsible as giving her a live hand grenade, pulling the pin, & telling her to see how far she can throw it.

  4. Good article in Time. Thanks for the link since I would not have looked to that magazine on my own, especially for a reasoned take on firearms.

    The obvious tragedy is what occurred, but also tragic will be the response by the anti-gun zombies funded by Bloomberg’s millions. Sadly there will be no way to reach the shambling brainless hordes droning “gunnsss baaad…” when the ads cashing in on this begin.

    @TRX: I’m in CT, and that East coast full auto incident tainted gun shows as badly or worse than the Sandy Hook murders. Then again, there is no discharge of a firearm in any manner (including police) that Bloomberg won’t use for his agenda.

  5. This seems about the same as going to the track and giving a 9 year old a 700hp sprint car instead of a 2hp go-kart. Not only is a mini-uzi a lot of gun for a small girl who clearly isn’t very confident with guns of any sort, but it’s also not big enough for the instructor to maintain secondary control of the muzzle should things go screwy, case in point.

  6. In my e-mail to you, Mas, I called the instructer an idiot. Perhaps that was too harsh a word. Of course my sympathies go out to his family.

    Actually, I tried a somewhat similar stunt with nearly catastrophic consequences. Back when I had my class 3 license, I attemped to use a Mac 10 with a 30 rd. Mag and was going to dump the whole mag in one burst into a B-17 target. I was holding the crappy wire stock tight to my shoulder and about half way through the mag the stock retracted and the weapon slammed back into my face. The rear sight caught the top of my eye socket and I fell to the ground. The weapon fell onto the bench. No
    harm to anyone else. After that I had a wooden stock in place and a barrel
    extension. Whenever someone else wanted to shoot I made sure we were in a safe place and I stood behind the shooter ready to grab it. Also rarely did I give them a full mag.
    Mas, as long as we are talking mgs, do you know whatever became of the American 180. A salesman at a Second Chance bowling pin shoot had one that he was alowing people to shoot. 22RF 180 rnds in a drum mounted on top, kind of like a Lewis gun? Did it ever catch on with law enforcement?

  7. Mas, please delete the first partial message, I screwed up.

    At that age, I limited all three of my kids (2 Boys, 1 Girl) to single shot .22 rifles, and they did quite well, on bottles, cans, and later, on Farmer’s prairie dogs, and other critters, all with out human casualties.

    With my job, having Firearms around 24/7, the first thing I did, was to set a big shiny, unloaded, pistol out on our coffee table, and to sit next to it, with a rolled newspaper in my hand.

    Every time one of our toddlers reached for the pistol, I lightly swatted their little fingers, and firmly told them “NO”. After a short time, they might accidently trip over the coffee table, and touch the weapon, but none of them ever tried to pick it up, or handle one, after that.

    Of course, as they grew to an age of more understanding, I explained to them what each type of gun was, and made them tell me back, how to tell whether each type ( SA Revolver, Automatic, or whatever) was, or could be loaded, or not.

    Strangely, although both the boys, were on their school’s rifle team, back when they had such things in schools, but none of them turned out to be what might be “A gun nut”, when they grew to adulthood.


  8. While what happened is bad, it was, in the end, “parental responsibility” or perhaps “instruction” problem, not a “gun” problem.

    Parents turn kids of the same age loose on snowmobiles, Jet Skis, snowboards, scooters, shifter karts, and dirt bikes, all just as capable of maiming or killing people as firearms.

    In the three decades since I bought my MAC-11, I’ve learned that responsible, gun-savvy adults can’t be trusted to keep the gun under control with the happy switch on. Granted it’s probably a bit harder to control than an Uzi, but I still only give first-time shooters three rounds in the first magazine…

  9. Eight and 9 are too young to be playing with full auto weapons and that’s just what it is at that age… playing. I read one account that the instructor was on the wrong side to stabilize the girl and tried to control the weapon from the bottom. The other instructors were on the proper side and had a hand over the weapons. While it said no more it sounds like it was kids day. Foolish if it was.
    Many states allow big game hunting at 10. I have grave reservations about that too.
    Thanks for the link, it’s a well thought out article.
    Stay safe and my regards to the Evil Princess.

  10. Mas, this tore my heart out when I saw the video. About 5 to 10 years ago at a full auto shoot this happen but it was a boy of about the same age but he shot himself. Right now is time for prayers for both families. It looked to me that the Uzi used was a mini, with no shoulder stock which would have made a world of difference. With the stock the instructor stands behind with his hand close to the weapon ready to grab it if it gets out of control. When I taught all of my kids to shot an auto pistol it was one round at a time and I stood just like I said above. We can discuss what the instructor should have done until the cows come home. The look on the instructors face was a smile that he knew she was going to love shooting the Uzi. Maybe he became to relaxed waiting for the giggles that was going to come from the little girl after firing. I don’t know but I do know that the families of the Instructor and the little girl who has to live with the fact that she at no fault of her own has to live the rest of her life knowing that she accidently killed someone. My prayers go out to both of the families. What should have been giggles and thrills turned out to become tragic. This is what life does when we are not thinking all the time of what will I do if this happens? This tragedy hurts to the point that tears are ready to come wishing that at times like this we could roll back time. Always be on Guard.

  11. I have spent years teaching kids firearm safety and use and this week’s tragedy breaks my heart both as a father and as a fellow instructor. It is the job of the instructor to keep the kid in a safe situation at all times and to know what is beyond their ability. Layered safety, a respect of murphy, and clarity of what lies beyond your ability as an instructor to make safe are all part of the trust given to you by your students. They trust you. Be worthy of it.

  12. This reminded me of an incident posted on the internet a few years back where a person let a fully automatic Glock with a 33 round mag get out of control. Fortunately, his wound was not life-threatening. I think there is a trend, probably due to social media, to get people (usually young ladies) to shoot a gun they are not prepared to handle. This was especially true at the time Joe Biden made his comments about telling his wife to fire a shotgun in the air. Of course young ladies can easily handle shotguns, etc. when properly trained. I kept thinking how many of these folks would likely never develop a serious interest in shooting sports because of their bad experience.

  13. I’ve read elsewhere that the girl had previously fired full-auto firearms. Still, she appears to be a tiny 9-year old who probably would not have the strength to control the gun. As far as I’m concerned, this entire episode is the result of negligence on the instructor’s part. Who knows what else he might have had on his mind that day? It’s sad beyond words, and that poor little girl will probably have many difficult nights over this, but it’s not her fault. I wish someone could explain that to her in a manner she can understand.

  14. Most of us see this as a common sense issue. Don’t let a small 9 year old girl, or boy for that matter, try to operate a weapon such as this. Most of us would not teach our children to drive in a double-a fuel dragster. I would be interested to know if this was a common practice for this instructor in the past, working with children of such a tender age. If so, familiarity sometimes breeds contempt, or at least laxness in attention.

    One thing that concerns me is that law makers (government) make it a habit to pass laws to protect us from ourselves, one size fits all. They use incidents such as this as an excuse.

    There is a saying in law enforcement “bad cases make for bad case law”. I submit another “stupid acts precipitate bad legislation”.

  15. A man’s got to know his limits, and more importantly, the limits of the kids they’re introducing to firearms or when supervising the use of firearms. The story is heartbreaking, and my prayers go out to the families of both the instructor and the 9-year old girl. A sobering reminder and lesson to be relearned for us all.

  16. There is just no good reason to hand a full auto weapon to a child that age.
    Someone thought it would be “cute” to watch her run through a full mag as they videoed the experience, thinking about how it would look on YouTube.

    One of the truest things I have ever read about firearms came, from all places, a Stephen King novel. I doubt he had this thought, it had to have come from another source. He wrote (and I paraphrase): “In every gun there lives a demon. This demon is very patient, he will wait years, decades or even a hundred years, however long it takes. He is waiting for someone to make one, single mistake. That’s all he wants, just one mistake.” That demon got his chance when the girl was handed the Uzi.

    In one of my gun magazines, a long time ago, I read of a gunsmith who was given a Civil War era muzzle loader to perform some work on. The man who gave the weapon to the gunsmith said it had been in his family going back as long as anyone could remember. No one had ever tried to fire it as far as he knew, and it had only been stored in some out of the way place and handed down through the generations.
    The gunsmith had to, for some reason having to do with what he was asked to do with the weapon, remove the barrel. He tried to turn it off in the normal manner but it wouldn’t budge. So he clamped it in a vice, got out his torch and started heating the back end of the barrel.
    Imagine his astonishment and terror when the black powder that had been loaded for the past however many years did exactly what it was intended to do. It shot the lead ball that had been rammed in at some distant time in the past out of the barrel and through the door of his shop. Fortunately no one was on the other side and no one was hurt or killed. That was a very, very patient demon.

    A friend who just got out of the Army (where he was an armorer) and was working in a gun shop as a gunsmith was once handed a pump action shotgun. He racked the pump a few times and, not ejecting a shell ASS-umed the gun was empty. He put it between his knees as he sat on the stool in front of the workbench and somehow snagged the trigger somewhere and damn near blew his head off when the shell in the barrel, which wouldn’t eject because the ejector was broken, discharged. He didn’t visually check to see there was nothing in the chamber. Now you can bet he never ASS-umes ANY weapon is EVER empty without looking, sticking a finger in and looking again. That demon almost cost him his life.

    In my NRA magazine I read of a detective who came home from work, went to his gun safe where he stored his Glock service pistol when off duty. He opened the door and went to hang the pistol from it’s trigger guard onto the peg on the wall of the interior of the safe. He failed to unload the pistol prior to attempting to hang it up and the trigger came down on the peg and the pistol discharged, spinning around and around from the recoil and firing again and again shooting the officer several times before he could fall out of the way. He managed to survive, but the demon chalked up another victim.

    Keep the demon in mind whenever you pick up a firearm, or hand one to someone else.

  17. This misfortune was commented in czech media too – it contains all keywords for emotions (child, gun, blood, death). Many comments about “American idiots in love with their guns” were under this article and some calls for tough gun control in CZ of course. It is crazy because in CZ was so low number of crimes commited with legally owned guns that police stopped to divide legal/illegal gun in statistics. Most of debaters have no idea about gun related law here in CZ nor in US and cannot imagine why one wants to own gun.
    Personally I think it was instructor mistake (I know how can my 10 year old daughter handle 9mm hangun) but she managed first shot very well. Maybe if child wants to shoot in full auto mode is goot idea to not load full magazine 3 – 5 rounds should be enough for start.
    Hope it will not start next wave of “disable assault weapons” madness.

  18. i enjoyed dan baum’s “gun guys”, but i do not agree with some of his political views. IIRC, this is the same guy that suggests mandatory gun storage laws.

    i found his time article to be pointless, other than to inflict upon others his idea of how children’s exposure to firearms should be limited to marksmanship. to me this is similar to imposing the idea that firearms should only be used for the purpose of sportsmanship or hunting.

    his infliction is evident in the last paragraph where he states “you don’t [do this]. you don’t [do that]”. no dan, YOU don’t. don’t tell me what to do. it would be better said “it’s reasonable not to [do this]. if you choose to, it’ll drastically increase the risk of severe consequences”; but that’s just my freedom of choice ideology.

    the problem really is with the incredibly low tolerance factor when something bad happens with firearms. accidents involving teen drivers, swimming pools, and other tragic life experiences are accepted as facts-of-life and don’t even make the news, but gun related and all of a sudden everyone has an opinion about how others should live their lives.

  19. I think anyone who spends enough time around guns will eventually have an AD. (accidental discharge, no sexual connotation intended) Like spending enough time on the road and eventually you will get a speeding ticket. Spend enough time around guns and the law of averages will catch up.
    How often do you hear of someone getting shot while cleaning their gun. Sounds stupid, right? Actually, I think someone was playing with their gun and just couldn’t admit it. Probably, dry firing produces more ad’s than anything else. Hence, the rule for not having any ammo out when dry firing. When putting the firearm away donot reload untill you are actually standing right where you keep the firearm. It is too
    easy to reload and then walk to where you store it and during that moment your mind is still in practice mode and you take a shot at that wall switch.

  20. Condolences to the family of both the trainer and the girl. They without their loved one and she lives with the knowledge that she was at the trigger when a man was killed. I don’t mean this to sound harsh, but my take on this is that it was a failure of the instructor %100. Way too close to the muzzle during instruction. I feel he could have more effectively and safely controlled the situation from behind the girl rather than to the side. The issue of whether she was old enough is a non-starter because while pretty young, there are certainly youngsters who are wholly capable of handling the firearm in question under the proper conditions. Correct me if I’m wrong, Mas, but don’t you make it ABUNDANTLY clear that nothing of this sort is going to happen in your class?? I seem to remember you driving home the point that “no one is going to f**k that up”? I know it stuck with me. When you start to believe that nothing like this can happen to you because you are “trained” or “experienced” enough to prevent it, look out. Murphy lurks! Complacency is the enemy, and I believe this instructor became complacent. Sad! My .02.

  21. Thought #1 – He (especially) and she were not prepared or properly trained.
    Thought #2 – Too bad he lost, but she lost too, by having to carry that experience with her the rest of her life.
    Thought #3 – The whole thing makes me mad as hell

  22. According to the video that I saw and the commentary from eye witnesses, the child had only fired ONE round though that weapon.. ONE…… she fires one round semi-auto, and then the instructor says “lets do full auto”, clicks the switch, and she fires……. having only shot one round through the weapon. What trainer puts more than 2 in a mag? Then 3, etc. One who is now d e a d. Sad but true.

  23. The generally accepted rate of deaths while in custody or during an arrest by police is less than 1000 per year, the majority of which are ruled justifiable or unavoidable.

    The rate of avoidable deaths caused by mistakes made while under the care of a doctor/hospital range between 100,000 and 400,000 per year. Apparently, the average citizen is 100 to 400 times more likely to die at the hands of a medical professional making a mistake than they are during an arrest or due to incarceration by law enforcement.,_Evidence_based_Estimate_of_Patient_Harms.2.aspx

  24. This could have been done perfectly safely had the instructor helped the child control the gun, and/or worked up to a full or partially full magazine in steps. But he didn’t, and paid the price for it.

    Tragic, and wholly avoidable, but not evidence for any restrictions or bans.