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Arizona congressman’s bill would stop children from shooting machine guns

In this Aug. 25, 2014 image made from video provided by the Mohave County Sheriff Department, firing-range instructor Charles Vacca, left, shows a 9-year old girl how to use an Uzi. Vacca, 39, was standing next to the girl on Monday at the Last Stop range in Arizona, south of Las Vegas, when the girl squeezed the trigger, causing the Uzi to recoil upward and shoot Vacca in the head. (AP Photo/Mohave County Sheriff Department)

PHOENIX — A bill sponsored by an Arizona congressman would make it illegal for a child to possess or fire a machine gun or assault-style weapon.

“[The bill] will prohibit kids under the age of 16 from possessing or firing machine guns and assault weapons, including at gun shows and shooting rangers,” Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-Ariz.) said.

The Help End Assault Rifle Tragedies Act was announced Tuesday. Gallego said it was partly inspired by the 2014 death of Arizona shooting instructor Charles Vacca, who was fatally shot when his 9-year-old student lost control of an Uzi.

Vacca’s children joined Gallego to show their support for the new bill. His daughter, Ashley, said she supports the Second Amendment, but also common sense gun laws.

“This should never have happened,” she said. “It defies common sense that children can shoot fully-automatic weapons and machine guns. Can anything be more crazy?”

Current Arizona law does not specify a minimum age for children to either carry or fire a gun. The minimum shooting age at the Arizona Last Stop range (where Vacca died) is 8. The child must be supervised by a parent.

No criminal charges were filed in Vacca’s death. Mohave County law enforcement said the death is considered an industrial accident.

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