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Answers sought in accidental Ariz. shooting range death

Reported by: Sergio Avila
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Updated: 8/27/2014 6:47 am
LAS VEGAS (KSNV – After an instructor is shot and killed by a 9-year-old girl at a Mohave County (Ariz.) gun range, local gun enthusiasts say the incident has made everyone take a closer look at safety.

Bob Irwin, owner of The Gun Store, says the Uzi that was used in at the range that struck 39-year-old Charles Vacca, is typically very safe because it has a safety button on the grip, behind the trigger.

“This must be depressed and the trigger bolt to fire the gun,” Irwin said. “What you're talking about, from what I understand of this incident, is extremely unusual. I've been at this now for 40 years. We've been having a machine gun rental range, and I've never heard of something like this happening.”

In the video of the accident, it's hard to make out where the back of the gun is resting. If it's not against the shoulder, Irwin says, the recoil is stronger.

“When the blast is pushing here and your hand is down here, it causes the gun to rotate,” he said.

Vacca, of Lake Havasu City, Ariz., died Monday after he was shot at the Last Stop shooting outdoor range in White Hills. Sheriff's officials say Vacca was airlifted to University Medical Center in Las Vegas.

“Even though it's just a 9 millimeter, there's still a lot of recoil, and it happen again and again and again,” said Gun Store rangemaster Mike Butremovic. “So the first time you're not ready for it, it will start rocking you back.”

The fact is this was a terrible accident, Irwin says, that may have been caused by a weapon malfunction, an ammunition problem or something else. It will be up to investigators to determine the true cause.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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