9 y.o. girl shoots instructor dead while learning to fire Uzi machine gun

The parents of a 9-year-old girl from New Jersey, visiting Las Vegas, thought it would be a neat idea to teach their fourth grader how to shoot an Uzi.

An Uzi is a submachine gun. The kind of gun that when you hold the trigger down it just keeps shooting and shooting.

So they took the child to the Last Stop, a combination extreme shooting range and burger joint where kids and adults can shoot machine guns and launch grenades.

Oh, and they throw in a free burger too.

So guess what happened next?


Moments before the 9 y.o. girl shot her instructor in the head with an Uzi, killing him.

After shooting one shot, the instructor told the girl “all right,” and then switched the machine gun to fully automatic — where if you hold down the trigger the thing keeps shooting 10 bullets per second. The child was unable to control the rapid-fire machine gun, swiveled while shooting it, and shot her instructor in the head, killing him.

Yes, who could have imagined that handing a 9-year-old girl a machine gun might lead to carnage?

Interestingly, the NYT story on this is focusing a lot on the shoot-em-up burger joint, and not at all on the parents of a 9 year-old girl who thought it would be a neat idea to train their young grade schooler on a weapon of war.

The man is dead. The girl is scarred for life. And the parents? Proud defenders of the Second Amendment.

Are we a great country, or what?


CyberDisobedience on Substack | @aravosis | Facebook | Instagram | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the Executive Editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown; and has worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, the United Nations Development Programme, and as a stringer for the Economist. He is a frequent TV pundit, having appeared on the O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline, AM Joy & Reliable Sources, among others. John lives in Washington, DC. .

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53 Responses to “9 y.o. girl shoots instructor dead while learning to fire Uzi machine gun”

  1. sane37 says:

    Tell that to slavery.

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  3. KingCranky says:

    And gun nuts think that unverified/anecdotal accounts of guns stopping intruders/physical assaults, or ridiculously caterwauling about being “disarmed” by the government, “is reality proving them right”.

    In what way is letting a child, unable to physically control a fully automatic weapon, discharge a firearm in a public setting showing any kind of “responsible gun use”?

  4. Buford says:

    As someone who has fired machine guns… AK-47, Thompson, Uzi, etc… I can attest to how difficult it is for a 6′ tall, 190-lb adult to keep the muzzle from raising during full-auto bursts. You actually practice that ‘lean into it’ stance before pulling the trigger, and you learn to let go of the trigger if/when the muzzle starts inevitably rising.

    This idiot instructor might just as well have handed her a live grenade while telling her to throw it no less than 200 feet.

  5. Buford says:

    “I cleaned up the gene pool…”

  6. Buford says:

    Agree. The only ‘victim’ here is the 9-yo girl.

  7. andyou says:

    If that were true, she would have shot the parents.

  8. Houndentenor says:

    Exactly. It is rare but it isn’t nonexistent. This is perhaps an extreme case but there are gun accidents. In my local area there were high school boys (underage) who went camping and one of them accidentally shot and killed one of his friends. They were also drinking. There should not have been either alcohol nor firearms on this trip, but it was the weapon that turned out to be legal. It was horrible (I know some of their friends and it was devastating for the whole community). I am well aware that the vast majority of people who own firearms use them and store them responsibly. But you would think that those would be the people who would be first to speak up for rules and regulations that make these events less likely. Instead they are the first to play No True Scotsman and these things keep happening. My apologies to the few here who HAVE spoken up but you above everyone else must know how few people actually do speak up publicly and maybe it’s time for you to form a REAL gun-owners organization that speaks up for responsible gun ownership and safety instead of the NRA which really only represents the irresponsible gun manufacturers.

  9. Naja pallida says:

    I don’t see anyone being taught responsible gun use. I see someone being shown that guns are supposed to be fun, and for your amusement. A level of thoughtlessness, where guns cease to be the tool of death they are, and become a fun family afternoon’s entertainment – or scarring the whole family for life, as the case may be.

    Every time a new “one incident” occurs, ammosexuals come crawling out of the woodwork declaring that we can’t even have a discussion on the situation based on “one incident”, but it isn’t and never has been just “one incident”. It is a continuous pattern of negligence and carelessness, that has only resulted in the unnecessary deaths of hundreds of people. Of course there will always be more responsible gun owners than irresponsible, but at what point will those people stand up and say that they like their rights, and that the idiots that are preventing common sense reform are a detriment to the entire country.

  10. Naja pallida says:

    It isn’t the first time… and rare or not, it should never happen.

  11. ttoe says:

    All the liberals. One accident from a child being taught responsible gun use who’s obviously not the first 9 year old to fire an uzi with this instructor vs the thousands of deaths and injuries by kids never taught responsible gun use.

    And liberals think that magically one incident is reality proving them right.

    It’s like those people who say that seat belts are more harmful because of the rare incident where someone dies because they wore a seat belt.

  12. ttoe says:

    There’s a reason this is the first time we’ve heard about this king of accident. It’s because it’s so rare.

  13. ttoe says:

    If government didn’t attempt to dictate the market it wouldn’t be a problem. Supply and demand would dictate.

  14. FLL says:

    What I meant was trying to mess with our form of government by trying to overthrow it through violence, such as getting like-minded people in various regions of the country to stock up on semi-automatic or fully automatic weapons and threaten local authorities. I’ve had discussions with my friend in northwest Montana’s Flathead Valley, and he agrees with me that this is crazy, and we remain friends.

    My concern is not that far-fetched. There are a few remnants of the White nationalists from northern Idaho who have wound up in the Kalispell area or other small towns in Flathead Valley like Columbia Falls and Whitefish. I even remember Rachel Maddow interviewing one of them recently. But it seems that they have given up the violent plans that they had during the 1990s. I think the days of Aryan Nations at Hayden Lake, Idaho are gone for good, which is for the best. As you say, there are ways to amend the Constitution, and my friend in Flathead Valley is in agreement with both you and I on that.

  15. flocculent says:

    Excellent observation. Market forces at work. Don’t forget, though, the right wing mentality is one of victimization. When convenient to them, many on the hard right will immediately fall into persecution mode. I doubt anyone on that side of the gun argument will sense the invisible hand of the market, rather they will feel the invisble jackboots of the left on their noodly throats.

  16. Naja pallida says:

    That’s all the open carry idiots have managed to do. They walk into public places, scare sensible people, and voila… a ban. And one not enforced by their ever feared big government, but one enforced by the free market.

  17. Myrddin Wyllt says:

    As I keep saying, its the NRA going to get all the guns banned.

    If responsible gun owners don’t speak up and support gun control they are going to get gun prohibition. Because the rest of the country is fed up of schools being shot up and the NRA popping up telling everyone not to jump to conclusions or exploit the situation.

  18. nicho says:

    They will find some way to blame “liberals.”

  19. BeccaM says:

    Yeah…but y’know a Constitution can always be amended.

    The original Constitution legalized slavery, defined slaves as 3/5 of a human being, and restricted the vote to white landowners. The 2nd Amendment itself was an amendment, as were the rest of the Amendments comprising the Bill of Rights.

    Later Amendments abolished slavery and granted blacks the right to vote. It took another Amendment to extend the right of suffrage to women. And yet another to extend it to 18 year olds.

    Alcohol was legal…then it was Amended to be illegal, then the Amendment itself rescinded through another Amendment.

    There is nothing holy or sacred about the U.S. Constitution. It was written by men, not infallible gods. Men who made compromises and a bunch of bad decisions, but one good decision they made was to put a process for amending the Constitution right there in the Constitution itself.

    Amending the Constitution isn’t “messing” with the Constitutional form of government. It’s using it exactly as intended. In short, if I read what you’re saying correctly FLL, your friend seems to have a pretty big blind spot when it comes to our system of government…

  20. BeccaM says:

    And one of the problems is we keep calling these incidents “accidents” — as if the consequences of leaving a toddler inside a house where a loaded gun is present and accessible is something rare and unforeseen.

    That’s why I keep using the word “negligence,” along with the adjective “criminal.” As in, it should be considered criminally negligent to allow a 9 year old girl to fire an Uzi. That was no mere accident. It happened because adults who should’ve known better decided to be criminally irresponsible and negligent — from her parents on down to the guy the little girl killed, and including the owners and operators of ‘Bullets and Burgers’.

  21. BeccaM says:

    Well, it seems to be because our government and it’s NRA-whipped elected officials have deemed it’s a more inalienable right to own guns than not to be shot dead by one.

  22. Naja pallida says:

    I’m with Becca. Though for me it hits home. I’m from a military family, and every year the base would have exhibitions of military equipment, where the base dependents could actively participate. Many times from the age of nine, into my teens, I fired weapons that I probably had no business even touching – under the supervision of army marksmen. One that sticks out in my mind was an FN C7 that left my shoulder black and blue for a week.

    The ridiculous part is, gun accidents are not the exception, they are the norm. And there are hundreds every year that involve children. Far more accidents happen than justifiable homicides. At what point will we admit that nobody is actually any safer? More guns is always going to equate to more deaths.

  23. BeccaM says:

    I’m here. I’m a gun owner. And I am denouncing this ridiculously irresponsible and criminally negligent behavior.

    Like the vast majority of gun owners, I favor universal background checks. I oppose the ‘gun show’ and private sales loopholes that make it possible to buy a gun without a background check.

    I also oppose the loopholes that make gun ‘rental’ legal at both legitimate and theme-park-like shooting ranges. I oppose letting the mentally ill, violent felons and the criminally indicted to own guns. I think fully-automatic guns have no place whatsoever outside of the military. I favor limits on the size of magazines and clips. I think there’s actually a debate to be had over whether semi-automatics should be allowed to be owned by civilians. I actually favor requiring both liability insurance and licenses for owning firearms. I favor restrictions on ‘open-carry’ as well as far more strict concealed-carry laws. I favor those micro-ID tags in gunpowder that can identify where bullets came from. I think ‘smart guns’ are a good idea, as are trigger locks and gun safes. I believe children under the age of 18 should be restricted from being allowed to handle certain types of firearms, including handguns and anything semi- or fully-automatic.

    In short, I am a gun owner who believes in sensible and comprehensive gun control laws. Not all gun owners will agree with my entire list, but there’s no question whatsoever about the universal background check part. I’d also wager it’s only a very small minority who think that a place like “Bullets and Burgers” should be allowed to operate as they did.

    But here’s the problem: I, like most gun owners in America, am a private citizen. I do not have a lobbying organization funded to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars by the gun manufacturers and by thousands of Americans have been propagandized into believing we’re mere months away from Mad Max and the Thunderdome. For all of the organizations fighting for sensible gun control legislation — and there are lots of them — who do members of both parties fear? It’s the NRA.

  24. Houndentenor says:

    As long as Congress is a bunch of spineless chickenshit weasels nothing is going to happen. Oh, noze the NRA won’t like! We are all fucked until we get the big money out of our politics.

  25. Houndentenor says:

    A .22 might be too much for a 9 year old but I otherwise agree with your point.

    I understand why some people in specific circumstances want to own firearms. I don’t understand why this kind of weapon is legal and I sure as fuck don’t know why a 9 year old was even on the same property as such a weapon.

  26. Houndentenor says:

    So where are the people who run responsible shooting ranges in all this? Am I missing them denouncing these places and calling for them to be shut down?

  27. Houndentenor says:

    Here’s what I don’t get. The vast majority of gun owners would never do anything like this. They’d be well aware that a child just isn’t big enough or strong enough to control a weapon of this kind. Where are they in denouncing this. Crap like this makes responsible gun owners look bad. They should be at the front of the line getting smart gun laws passed so crap like this doesn’t happen. Instead they have a lobbying group that’s really looking out for the interests of the manufacturers and not the owners. I just don’t get it. At some point Congress will stop being such spineless cowards and actually do something about this. I’m not sure adults should have weapons like this but I think everyone should agree that a 9 year old shouldn’t even be on the same premises as such a weapon. Why was this even legal? Because money.

  28. FLL says:

    I’ve never owned firearms, but when I still lived in Chicago during the 1990s, a friend took me to her family farm out in rural western Illinois and taught me how to shoot a .22 (I think). I’m 5’6″, 125 lbs., and even though I can lift my weight, I could definitely feel the recoil. I had to spread my feet to remain stable. I think now about a 9-year-old girl with an Uzi–absolutely crazy. My friend told me that a .45 had an even more powerful kickback.

  29. BeccaM says:

    Agreed. This was criminal-level negligence involving every adult there.

  30. nicho says:

    I think a point that a lot of people are missing is that this isn’t a serious gun safety training establishment. This is a theme park for violent activities. Just look at their billboard — Ride an ATV, Shoot a Big Gun, Have Your Bachelorette Party Here while Shooting a .50 Cal. This isn’t part of a gun safety course. This is a tragedy waiting to happen. And the guy who was shot, I’ll bet he wasn’t even a certified gun-safety instructor. He was just an amusement attendant at the theme park. At least he was the only one killed. They’re just lucky the little girl didn’t spin around on full auto and wipe out a parking lot full of people, including her idiot parents.

  31. Yep, I saw that story too.

  32. I’ve shot handguns and shotguns. I was shocked the first time how the gun, as I recall, flew back and up (at least the handgun did, as I recall), the shotgun simply destroyed my shoulder. I was thinking of that when I was watching the video of the little girl, trying to imagine how surprising it was for me when the gun and shotgun attempted to go wherever they wanted to. But for a 9 year old girl? And putting the gun on automatic? I feel sorry for the girl, because she didn’t know any better. But every adult involved, from the school to her parents, ought to be in jail IMHO.

  33. BeccaM says:

    Yep. Couldn’t agree more.

  34. BeccaM says:

    Yeah, well, once I would have thought we could safely assume no sane adult would ever let a child fire a fully-automatic Uzi. God only knows what lessons this girl’s parents will teach her about their criminally negligent lethal mistake.

  35. Thom Allen says:

    I agree about the entire country needing to reevaluate firearm laws. But until that happens, they can start here. Look at “Bullets and Burgers” website.

    http://bulletsandburgers.com/ This is catering to the wild-eyed gun nuts.

    “Shoot a .50 cal! Choose your machine gun! Guns used in ‘famous Hollywood movies!” They advertise their “World Famous Burger” with beer. Think about that. Automatic weapons, adventure, adrenalin, ammo, alcohol, kids. WHAT COULD POSSIBLY GO WRONG?!?? That whole picture is seriously insane. They get people all jacked up with that advertising and then give them guns and turn the visiting Rambo loose. They seriously need sued out of existence.

  36. BeccaM says:

    How sadly ironic. The ‘Bucket List’ was about two terminally ill men who wanted to do a bunch of things before they died, hence their list of things to do before they “kicked the bucket.” That 9-year-old girl had her whole life ahead of her.

    When I was 9, I wanted to be an astronaut. No matter how much I wanted to do so, how often I dreamed about it, it would’ve been insanely irresponsible to put me at the controls of an Apollo Saturn V. I think it’s safe to say that another child’s dream of being a Formula One or NASCAR race driver would also be turned down as dangerous and irresponsible.

    This isn’t a problem of just a local community needing to look at gun laws and how they apply to children — as well as the mentally ill — but this entire country needs a new and far more sane attitude about firearms.

  37. Thom Allen says:

    The owner apparently said that firing an Uzi was on the girl’s bucket list. Of course, fulfilling this wish on her bucket list, abruptly ended the instructor’s ability to complete his bucket list.

    I think Children and Youth Services should investigate the family. What they allowed is child endangerment, at least. If they are that irresponsible, I can easily imagine that they have used bad judgment in the past and may have endangered her before.

    I think the parents, instructor and owner were all at fault in this killing (not an “unfortunate ‘accident'” as stated in some stories.) I think the venue is totally inappropriate (bullets, burgers, “exciting,” “FULL AUTO.”) They make it sound like a Chuck E. Cheese’s with weapons and ATVs – no danger, just FUN! The gun range needs closed down and the owner should be prosecuted.

    The local community needs to look at its gun laws specifically as to how they apply to children and use of automatic and semi-automatic weapons.

  38. MJ says:

    Did they also have the 9-year-old drive them to Las Vegas to begin with ?

  39. BeccaM says:

    Yeah, but the problem is we’re not just talking “a gun.” The absolutists insist it should be ANY gun, of any caliber and of any capability, including in the case of being able to fire multiple rounds per second. And they’re cool with handing a 9-year-old a fully automatic sub-machine gun.

    I could see a 9-year-old being allowed to fire a .22 rifle at a target. I can certainly see responsible (and trained) 12-year-olds being allowed to carry a shotgun or deer rifle and to go hunting while under the supervision of a parent or guardian adult. I cannot imagine why a child should be allowed to fire a semi- or full-automatic gun they cannot possibly be expected to be able to shoot safely.

    The other problem is although we may expect gun owners to take precautions and to be responsible, the penalties for failing to do so are either miniscule or non-existent. The point I’m always making for those who admirably point out how they themselves have taken training courses, use gun safes and trigger locks, and have taught their kids well is always, “That’s great. Kudos to you and your responsibility, truly. Unfortunately being responsible isn’t mandatory.” I actually see quite a bit of merit in proposals that gun ownership should require liability insurance.

  40. nicho says:

    At least it will make an interesting “What I did on my summer vacation” assignment once school starts.

  41. lynchie says:

    I defy anyone who is at least partially sane and with an IQ above 90 to tell me how this is necessary or covered by the 2nd ammendment. the gun range showed be closed down and the parents charged with chlld endangerment. This unfettered stupidity is what the GOP and the 1% want. No rules, no regulations, everyone free to do whatever. Of course all in the name of JEBUS.

  42. dcinsider says:

    I’m trying real hard to feel bad for anyone but the little girl. All I can say is she is being hit hard by two realities. One, she accidentally killed another human being. Two, she is the child of the absolute dumbest parents in the United States.

    Neither is pleasant and both will scar her for life.

    As for the instructor and the parents, well he got his punishment, but they are just beginning to get theirs.

  43. BeccaM says:

    Simplifying somewhat, there are basically three ways a gun or rifle can fire. (Not going to get into single-action vs double-action…) One is the gun fires and then you need to do something to chamber another round, like a pump-action shotgun or a lever-action rifle for example. Or a breach-loading shotgun. Then there are semi-automatics. These fire one shot for every time you pull the trigger. If you’ve seen a 9mm handgun with a magazine and a slide-action, that’ll be a semi-auto. Most of the assault rifles out there carried by civilians are semi-auto. Even these ones require a bit of training to use responsibly.

    To own a fully-automatic gun requires a special federal firearms license (FFL). If you do not have this license, you could technically still own an Uzi, for example, but only if it has been disabled for fully automatic operation.

    There is a gigantic loophole in this law (actually several loopholes…). Yes, you need the FFL, which isn’t cheap. However, you as the owner of said fully-automatic firearm can grant permission to just about anybody to fire it in your presence, even a tiny child.

    I’ll tell you something else about fully-automatic firearms: Have you ever fired a gun? Ever watched someone actually shoot a gun? (No, Hollywood movies don’t count.) They kick. The barrel invariably wants to go up. The peculiarity of Uzis and other rapid-fire full-automatics is they not only go up, they also push the barrel to the left (part of this is the effect of the rifling inside the barrel and part is due to the ejection of the spent rounds). Hold down the trigger for more than a couple seconds and, unless you are strong and well-braced, that sub-machine gun will literally try to make you spin around in place.

    That “instructor” made a whole series of stupid mistakes. But the first mistake? Letting what appears to be a 70lb 9-year-old fire a fully-automatic sub-machine gun. No child that size can control a weapon like that. Disaster was all but guaranteed. The second mistake was standing exactly where the barrel was all but guaranteed to go the instant she put her finger down on the trigger. But really, mistake #1 outweighs everything else. I am not saying the “instructor” deserved to die (sorry, have to use irony quotes because everything he did was the opposite of responsible instruction). What I am saying is nobody should be at all surprised this happened.

    Hell, even if he hadn’t been standing where he was, that little girl STILL would have lost control of that submachine gun. If not him, it could’ve just as easily been the guy with the smartphone who was shot, or other bystanders. Grown adults, unless trained, physically capable and knowing exactly what to expect, will have trouble controlling an Uzi. (In fact, it’s also why Uzis are actually pretty crappy guns to begin with. They’re the archetype of ‘spray and pray’ firearms whose military value was based more on fear and intimidation than in actually being able to hit anything reliably… but I digress.)

    This wasn’t just a tragedy. This was an act of criminal negligence on the part of the “instructor” and the girl’s parents. I would dare to go so far as to say in a sane world, there would be charges of negligent manslaughter.

    The detail that boggles me, even among the gun aficionados who acknowledge it was criminally stupid to let a 9-year-old fire an Uzi on automatic, is how many insist that children need to be taught how to handle and shoot gun safely. Sorry, but as a gun owner myself and even given the family I grew up in, this is a bullshit statement. Very young children do not need to be taught how to ‘handle and shoot’ guns. The first lesson should be, “Do not touch or go near. If you see one, find an adult because these things are dangerous.”

    When they’re old enough to qualify for a hunting license, that’s another matter. (In many states, it’s 12 years old and up.) Even then questions of physical ability and mental fitness of the kid, and appropriateness of the specific firearm need to be addressed. I remember a time when my kid brother was demoted by our father to pack-carrier, because he carelessly wouldn’t pay attention to where the barrel of his 20ga was pointed.

    We do not let children drive cars or motorcycles because we have deemed they lack the emotional maturity and physical prowess to do so without endangering others. We do not let children drink alcohol or buy cigarettes, because we’ve deemed they lack the maturity to do so responsibly. We do not give children the right to vote for the same reason.

    And yet there’s almost no restriction on letting a child use a device that, when used as intended, is fully capable of maiming or killing. It’s nuts.

  44. Naja pallida says:

    Sadly, this isn’t the first time this kind of thing has happened. In 2008 an 8 year old boy shot himself in the head firing the same weapon.

  45. Well, and the gun debate is in the same position as so many other debates. The right is so far to the right that their arguments (on race, immigration, gay rights, women’s issues, abortion, etc.) are simply insane. I’ve been to Alaska, a lot. I get why some people need to own guns. But the pro-gun crowd, the leadership, is so insane — the notion that 9 y.o. girls should be handed a machine gun set on full automatic — is just beyond negligent.

  46. nicho says:

    I hope we can safely assume that she will not want to have anything to do with guns al long as she lives.

  47. nicho says:

    Sounds like Darwin at work to me. Just thinning out the herd.

  48. FLL says:

    A persuasive argument could be made that no civilian needs to know how to shoot a machine gun. What would they be preparing for? Civil war? An overthrow of our elected government? One could tell them that their popguns are no match for any level of government—federal, state or local—and that they should shelve their dreams of a violent overthrow of our elected government.

    Aside from that, were the girl’s parents, the instructors and the people who run this outfit so brain-dead that they didn’t understand that a machine gun has a very powerful recoil (the backward momentum of a gun after it is fired)? An average 9-year-old girl might weight 65 or 70 pounds. How could they not have understood that a 70-pound 9-year-old girl couldn’t possibly control such a powerful recoil that was continuous as the machine gun fired round after round? I find it unbelievable that the State of Nevada would allow such an operation to allow 70-pound children to attempt to control a machine gun with such a powerful recoil. What’s up in Las Vegas, Nevada? Any thoughts, Bill P.? You live there, so perhaps you could shed some light on the situation.

  49. Naja pallida says:

    The NRA opposes background checks because they’re a lobbyist organization for the companies that sell guns. Not for the gun owners. People who are soil-their-pants-scared tend to buy more guns… so they want to make sure people are as scared as possible.

  50. bkmn says:

    I support the right to own a gun. But I also expect the owner to take precautions so that the weapon is not misused or stolen or allowed to fall into the hands of someone who is not responsible.

    I’ve never understood how the NRA bats down background checks – all you have to do is explain to people that the NRA supports felons buying guns.

  51. Indigo says:

    The wages of way-cool gunnery is death. Always has been. Always will be. As for scarring the girl, if her parents are so entirely ignorant of child-rearing that they think gun-schooling a nine year old on an Uzi is appropriate, she’s long gone anyhow.

  52. Baal says:

    If that’s not an example of a well-regulated militia, I’ve never seen one.

    The girl is scarred for life, but given the parents, who knows what they subjected her to before this.

  53. Dave of the Jungle says:

    As I always used to say, you don’t teach someone to ride a motorcycle for the first time on a Kawasaki 900.

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