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Arizona Lawmaker Proposes Ban on Giving Machine Guns to Children

An Uzi submachine gun.
An Uzi submachine gun.

After a 9-year-old girl accidentally shot and killed a shooting instructor with an Uzi in Mohave County last week, an Arizona lawmaker is proposing a ban on giving machine guns to children.

"I cannot believe we need a law like this, but we do," Democratic Representative Victoria Steele tells New Times.

The 9-year-old girl was being instructed on how to fire the gun at a gun range called Last Stop in White Hills, a town between Kingman and Las Vegas. Video footage shows how the girl lost control of the firearm, although the video cuts off a split-second before shooting instructor Charles Vacca was shot.

Steele says she plans on proposing a ban on transferring a machine gun to anyone under the age of 16, including at a gun range.

"I'm disgusted that we even need such a law -- that parents can't be trusted to not give a machine gun to a 9-year-old girl," Steele says.

Steele says she got the idea for the statute from Connecticut lawmakers, who passed a bill after an extremely similar incident occurred at a gun expo in Massachusetts. In that case, an 8-year-old Connecticut boy accidentally shot himself to death firing an Uzi.

This wouldn't be Steele's first attempt to pass a gun-safety law -- earlier this year, she proposed a law that would have required adults to keep guns locked up if there are children in the home. Steele's bill didn't even get a hearing, and the Republican-controlled Legislature actually passed some laws relaxing gun regulations.

The next legislative session doesn't start until next year, so Steele still needs to be re-elected by voters in her Tucson-area district before she can propose the bill.

Send feedback and tips to the author. Follow Matthew Hendley on Twitter at @MatthewHendley.


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