From the Boston Herald.
The mother of an 8-year-old boy who shot himself to death at a supervised gun expo in Westfield yesterday says she’ll remember her son as an angel.
“He was a beloved, beautiful child. He was an angel,” said Suzanne Bizilj of Ashford, Conn., whose third-grade son, Christopher, died Sunday after firing an Uzi submachine gun at the Westfield Sportman’s Club.
Christopher apparently lost control as he fired the gun, forcing it upwards and back, causing him to shoot himself in the head, said Westfield Police Lt. Hipolito Nunez. Christopher was under the supervision of a certified instructor, as well as his father, Dr. Charles Bizilj, when he was shot.
The annual machine gun show is advertised as a free-for-all for gun enthusiasts, and has created discord among some club members, said longtime club member Bob Greenleaf.
“To let an 8-year-old boy fire an Uzi is the height of stupidity,” said Greenleaf.
Greenleaf, a member of the club for 44 years, was so opposed to the annual machine gun shoot that he resigned from the club’s board of directors four years ago.
An ad for the show posted on the Sportman’s Club Web site boasts: “No age limit or licenses required to shoot machine guns, handguns, rifles or shotguns!!!”
“You will be accompanied to the firing line with a certified instructor to guide you, But You Are In Control - Full Auto Rock And Roll.”
This is rare. Real rare that it happens at a range, and real rare that it was with a Class III firearm. A true Uzi is a class III firearm. They are very tightly regulated and have been since 1934. In order for me to own a Class III firearm (Fully automatic), I need to pay $200 for the stamp, send in fingerprints, get the permission of the local chief law enforcement, and then cough up at least $10,000 and probably $20,000 for a pre-1986 fully automatic firearm. There's also been one homicide in 70 years with a legally owned Class III firearm (by a cop). I'm not sure how many negligent stupidity causing deaths which happened by this, but that's probably in the single digits as well.
I am not adverse to SUPERVISED 8 year olds firing a gun in proper conditions, as long as it is the right gun. .22, .410. Low on recoil, easier to handle.
I've shot pistols, shotguns, and rifles and am familiar with the recoil of each and the variences of recoil. It takes time and experience to get used to it. If you rapid fire (not my style) a semi-auto, you see a little bit of a kick. The pistol rises up as the gun fires. I've never fired an uzi, but I have fired a fully automatic firearm once, on full auto. I was in my early 20's, 190 pounds, and in pretty good shape. I did not have an easy time controlling the recoil on that. Not at all. While it was fun shooting, I would damn well not want to give someone probably 60-85 pounds a full auto to shoot, considering my own troubles at 200 pounds and some experience. It would take me much more shooting to have the ability to control a fully automatic pistol or carbine.
Three major mistakes were made here.
Mistake 1 - Full auto firing. An 8 year old does not have the strength to control the firearm, nor the experience in dealing with it. I pin this on the range officer who should have said, no and explained why.
Mistake 2 - Not using 3 round burst to limit trouble. If this was insistant, the uzi should have been set to a 3 round burst, not the whole magazine.
Mistate 3 - Range officer was not right there with him to jump in when he lost control. He should have seen that beforehand. The range officers I know would never ever let this happen. This was not proper supervision.
No, I'm not going anti-gun, but I am a hardass about gun safety, and this is something that could have been prevented with better situational awareness, common sense, and experience. SAFR always hosts a family firearms day, usually either in the Howell area or Battle Creek area. You will never see this there. Everyone makes sure of it. The range officers there are in control.
A lot of interesting discussion on the High Road about this. General opinion there is the same as mine.
In short, with hunting season coming up and the use of firearms increasing in the next two months, let's be safe and smart out there.