DOLAN SPRINGS, ARIZONA — A 39-year-old shooting instructor in the U.S. state of Arizona was airlifted to hospital Monday after he was accidentally shot in the head by a 9-year-old student who he was teaching how to handle a submachine gun, local officials said on Tuesday. He later died of his injuries.
The accident occurred at about 10 a.m. local time on Monday at an outdoor shooting range in Dolan Springs, a census-designated place in Mohave County, about 195 miles (314 kilometers) northwest of Phoenix. It happened when a 9-year-old girl was receiving instructions on how to handle a Uzi from 39-year-old instructor Charles Vacca of Lake Havasu City.
"Vacca was standing next to the girl while he was instructing her how to use the weapon when the accident happened," a Mohave County Sheriff's Office spokesperson said. "Further investigations determined [that when] the girl pulled the trigger on the automatic Uzi, the recoil sent the gun over her head, and the victim was shot."
The instructor was airlifted to University Medical Center in Las Vegas, Nevada, where he died of his injuries at 8:56 p.m. An autopsy will be performed by the Clark County Medical Examiner's Office in Nevada.
Investigators have not released other details about the 9-year-old girl, who was not injured, but said the child was with her parents and was passing through Dolan Springs as part of a vacation.
Arizona gun laws generally require a person to be at least 18 years old to carry a firearm, but those laws do not apply on private property or if the minor is accompanied by a parent or a certified shooting instructor acting with the consent of the child's parent.
Gun rights are a hot topic in the United States, where the right to keep and bear arms is codified in the Second Amendment of the Constitution. A number of incidents, including a mass shooting at an elementary school in Connecticut in 2013, in which 27 people were killed, have prompted calls for tighter gun laws.