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By the Frankfort State Journal editorial staff
Looking for an exotic vacation spot? Tired of trips to the beach, the mountains or an amusement park? Need a place where the family can go to let off a little steam, maybe some aggression, make some noise, mess up some stuff?
Then maybe the hot new trend is for you and yours. “Gun tourism” is becoming quite the thing — although it could take a bit of a hit after an automatic Uzi being fired by a 9-year-old recoiled, released an extra bullet or two and killed her 39-year-old instructor at the Last Stop range in White Hills, Arizona.
And, if you’re fuzzy about “recoil,” it’s what a big gun does after it’s fired, literally, the stock “recoils” against the shoulder and if the shooter isn’t prepared or strong enough, the barrel of the weapon goes up in the air or sideways — or both. With an automatic weapon that bad situation is made worse if the shooter’s finger remains on the trigger allowing the gun to wildly discharge
Places where opportunities to shoot such big guns are offered are gaining popularity by leaps and bounds. People can shoot guns they can’t afford to own at targets, and they can become Rambo for the afternoon and hunt down some zombie targets, according to an Associated Press story.
That might be a fine way for adults to live out their fantasies, but for sure they’re no place for children to be pulling triggers on guns that can recoil and knock down a grown man — let alone release a stray bullet that lands in the head and takes the life of an instructor.
Just because it’s perfectly legal for a kid to shoot such a gun in a controlled situation doesn’t make it a good idea and, in this state known for some really bizarre stuff, we hope no one decides to set up a range here.
In the face of this unnecessary tragedy, as we feel sorrow for the family of Charles Vacca who was killed, we are glad police will not file charges against the little girl.
Of course this whole incident fuels the fire that never dies out about controlling guns. However, in this “controlled” environment — even if it wasn’t a good idea — it was legal.
The bigger question, it seems to us, goes to what’s the point of children playing around with assault weapons at all. Wouldn’t a Frisbee on the beach be lots safer or perhaps a hike in the mountains?
But it seems guns are gaining in popularity proportional to talk of banning certain weapons: The more the talk, the more the interest.
Are people who visit these strange amusement parks preparing for a nighttime attack by zombies or roving bands of vagrants in their neighborhood or are they just fulfilling a fantasy perhaps fueled by the proliferation of violent video games?
Do they plan to fork over the $25,000 it might take to own one of these weapons or is, as the AP story reported, $200 to visit and shoot enough?
What happened in Vegas is a tragedy, pure and simple. A family lost a loved one — and a little girl lost the innocence of childhood in a way that likely will scar her for life, knowing she took the life of another human being, even if totally by accident.
“Gun tourism” may someday replace visits to the beach, but for the love of decency and reason, let’s leave the kids with Granny if we’re going to shoot an Uzi.
Editor’s note: Story reprinted with permission through the Kentucky Press News Service.