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Lessons Not Learned

You’d think after the death of Christopher Bizilj in Massachusetts that everyone in the NFA community would realize that micro-uzis weren’t good weapons to train people on, especially for kids. But there’s always someone who doesn’t get the memo. That’s right, it happened again. The article doesn’t specifically say it was a micro-uzi or mini-uzi, but I’d put money on that being the case. The standard submachine gun Uzi is harder to lose control of in that manner, because it’s heavier and has a slower rate of fire (600 rpm) but it is still possible if the shooter is very inexperienced.

Either way, machine pistols are manifestly inappropriate for training newbies on, and that goes double if the person you’re training is a 9 year old. You’d think folks that have the money to play with NFA stuff would have more common sense.

UPDATE: Video here. They cut it just before it would get very ugly, but you can see what happened. As I suspected, it looks to me like a mini-uzi.

I’ve fired a machine pistol similar to the mini-uzi before. I was taught how to shoot it as an adult. It was more than just one shot on semi-auto. Start with doing a few strings on semi, to get a feel. Then put two in the magazine and shoot on full auto. Then work up to three. Then five. At each step, evaluate how well the person is exercising control. Then work up to ten. Full magazines don’t come until the person being instructed shows they can maintain authoritative control over the firearm.

If we in the firearms community want to keep being able to play with NFA toys, we’re going to have to get the message out that people need to exercise a tremendous amount of care in instructing people how to shoot them. Nine is way too young to have the experience and physical strength to control a machine pistol on full auto. The antis are already running with this story, and you can bet they will bring up this is the second time this has happened. God help save us from ourselves.

18 Responses to “Lessons Not Learned”

  1. Clay says:

    What kind of an instructor starts a 9 year old off with an Uzi? For God’s sake just begin with a Ruger .22 and work your way from there.

  2. Dave says:

    I think the fact that you are referring to them as “toys” is the problem. not part of the problem, it’s the problem. Full auto isn’t for everyone, and effectively using it is a perishable skill on top of normal shooting. A Rate of Fire greater than 1000 rpm is difficult to manage in any caliber, and particularly in submachine guns. They’re not toys.

    This is tragic, unfortunate and terrible on many levels, but one of the first things we learn is that if the gun doesn’t fit your hands you won’t be able to shoot it effectively. The shooter’s posture shows that they are not prepared for the muzzle climb, and her hands are simply not big, or strong enough to handle that kind of recoil. Not to be sexist, but men have somewhere on the order of 3-4 times the hand strength of the average female (?) I’m sure someone in the blogosphere will opine with some medical definition, but I have seen this demonstrated first hand, repeatably. this was poor judgment that went very, very wrong.

    The idea that automatic firearms are ‘toys’ is a manifestation of the attitude that contributed to this tragedy. They’re not toys. They shouldn’t be shot that way and they shouldn’t be blogged about as if they were toys.

    • Sebastian says:

      I know they are not toys. I am not speaking literally. In fact, I thought my tone there was mocking the idea rather than perpetuating it.

      • Dave says:

        No, you said this: “If we in the firearms community want to keep being able to play with NFA toys”

        firearms are not toys. we don’t play with them. There may be a recreational and fun value to them and the pursuit of mastering their use, but it’s not play time.

  3. Robert says:

    I would add that in addition to all that, I would use a safety strap attached from the foregrip to the bench that would keep the muzzle down no matter what.

    • Sebastian says:

      I would just not give a 9 year old a machine pistol, or think that firing one shot on semi is enough to let a newb go rocking with the happy switch. Much easier and sure solution.

      • Geodkyt says:

        The same problem exists with full adults, too — how many YouTube videos are their of sime grinning jackass handing “the little lady” something she isn;t ready to handle, including all the “bikini babe machinegun” videos that show clueless models letting machineguns run away from them?

        Two pieces of simple equipment – easily done for a place that rents machineguns – would prevent these sorts of incidents, and make a lot of sense for people letting strangers shoot their automatic weapons on a regular basis on their own range.

        1. A port to shoot through, whether a steel ring, or just a pice of plywood with a hole cut in it.

        2. A restraining strap on the gun just short enough to keep the muzzle from leaving the port.

        In conjunction, these restrain the muzzle so it can’t point up-range or behind teh line at all, while still allowing the shooter to hold teh gun and aim freely — the strap only chokes up as they are losing control, not before.

  4. Bram says:

    What an entirely predictable result. My kids were older and larger than that girl before they ever shot anything bigger than a .22.

  5. Knucklehead says:

    Wow, the stupid was strong in that instructor and the adult(s) who thought it was OK to allow the child into that position.

  6. rd says:

    My heart goes out to the child. No one that young should have to bear the burden of that incident. It was caused by what should have been responsible adults.

    • Patrick says:

      Yeah, you cannot unring the bell of killing someone at the age of nine. They will tell her it’s not her fault (and they are correct), but if she’s anything like my daughter she’ll feel responsible all the same, and it will trouble her for a long, long time.

      Hate this story.

      • P.M. says:

        Completely agree. So painful to think about. Those inclined really ought to pray for that girl.

  7. Joe_in_Pitt says:

    I shot my first fully-automatic firearm (MP5) at the age of 14. My father kept one hand on the thing to make sure it wouldn’t ride away from me. I agree with working up in magazine capacity…even as a 19yr old sailor dumping my first mag out of a Chinese AK on full-auto was a bit of a wakeup call. Each gun has different rates of fire, weight, recoil, etc., so shooting one on full-auto doesn’t mean you know what to expect for everything.

  8. V65Magnafan says:

    As a firearms instructor, I believe that the instructor was negligent. Note that the “instructor” was standing on the weak side of the shooter. Moreover, he did not have a comfortable, balanced stance that would assist him in taking control of the firearm in the event of loss of muzzle control.

    I feel so sorry for the little girl. So sad.

    • What I read was that the gun pulls to the right, not the left, so the instructor was standing on the right side, if that was true. But still, he erred in the good sense to permit this, as well as his stance.

      • Geodkyt says:

        He was on the LEFT of the shooter. Probably as much to avoid the brass fountain AND be on side the selector switch is on. (I know the selctor is on teh left side of a standard Uzi; AFAIK, it’s teh same for the Mini-Uzi as well.)

        I tend to coach and instruct from the left side, as well, to avoid ejecting brass. But I don’t hand newbies (especially not 9 year old kids) automatic weapons with full mags to start with and no physical restraining device on the gun.

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