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Arizona gun range closes indefinitely after instructor’s accidental death

LISTEN: Craig Cox Owner of Arizona Gun Teacher and Gun Safety Instructor

PHOENIX — A gun range where an instructor was accidentally shot and killed by a child this week has closed indefinitely.

Charles Vacca, 39, died Monday after he was shot in the head when an Uzi automatic jerked out of the hands of a 9-year-old girl he was teaching at Arizona Last Stop’s range in White Hills, Mohave County.

The range closed after the shooting but customers were still showing up two days later, according to a local news report.

Manager Sam Scarmardo said the site’s policies of allowing children 8 and older to shoot under adult supervision were under review.

Gun safety instructor Craig Cox said it’s hard to know if the girl could have handled the weapon at her age.

“In my opinion, it’s a little young,” he told Bruce St. James and Pamela Hughes on Thursday.

Cox said shooting a gun safely is more than just pulling the trigger after a few pointers.

“An individual’s mindset — is this fun, is this a toy, what’s going to happen? It’s especially important for someone who’s never fired this type of firearm before to get plenty of training … before they ever fire the first shot.”

Cox said, as far as he knows, it is up to individual ranges to determine safe ages to shoot. However, despite the fatal outcome, he doesn’t feel the instructor was at fault.

“I don’t think the instructor did anything wrong,” he said, adding that the girl should have received more training prior to being handed an automatic weapon.

The sheriff’s office considered the death an accident and was not filing charges.