Everyone can agree: better age limits should be established for gun usage

To shoot or not to shoot? That is the question on which we cannot agree.

Here’s what we do know: letting a 9-year-old girl shoot an automatic weapon is not a good idea.

At a shooting range in Mohave, Arizona, on Aug. 25, one little girl with an automatic Uzi killed her instructor when she couldn’t control the gun.

“If she hadn’t been using an automatic weapon, there wouldn’t have been as much of a kickback,” said sophomore and Guilford Democrats Co-President Seth Rose. “There’s no reason why she should be using a fully automatic gun.”

Setting an age restriction above the legal limit in Arizona, which is 8 years old, seems like it would be common sense. Unfortunately, Congress won’t do what needs to be done.

“It really frosts my pumpkin that Congress is so afraid of the NRA and the lobby groups that they don’t have the body parts to make the decisions they need to make to protect everybody,” said Assistant Professor of Political Science Robert Duncan.

In North Carolina there is no legal age minimum.

“I’ve been here all my life,” said sophomore and North Carolina native Colin Macintosh. “I’ve been shooting since I was 8.”

Whatever the state law, no one can say that this accident would have happened had there been an age limit.

“When I was a kid, my grandfather would take me out to the country, and we would shoot, but … a 9-year-old?” said Duncan. “That›s way too young.”

At the same time, there is a substantial difference between allowing a child to shoot a semi-automatic gun versus an automatic Uzi.

“No responsible parent would give that kind of gun to a kid,” said Guilford Republicans president and senior Harrison Houlihan. “Unless you’re strong enough to hold it in place, which a 9-year-old clearly isn’t, it’s just going to keep going.”

Not only does this awful incident affect the family of Charles Vacca, the instructor who was killed, but also the children who witnessed the event.

“(The girl’s family is) devastated by this accident that turned what was supposed to be a unique and brief excursion from their summer vacation into a life-changing tragedy,” said the police report.

Until this encounter with death, who is to say that this 9-year-old girl understood the impact of the weapon she held in her hands?

“Young kids cannot understand the power of a weapon and the fact that it is not a toy,” said Rose. “There needs to be responsibility (of gun use) forced by the government.”

Even if individuals are not allowed to own automatic weapons, the fact that they can use them in this context is frightening.

“A lot of it has to do with gun regulations in the business sector,” said Macintosh. “You can’t own an automatic weapon, and that’s reasonable.”

Democrats and Republicans agree: this tragedy would not have occurred had there been stricter regulations on gun control, even if Congress were to only address the type of guns used.

“There are problems with gun control in this country that need to be addressed,” said sophomore and Guilford Republicans member Philip Kenlon. “I don’t see the purpose in a child learning how to use a firearm like that. If you’re going to teach a child how to use a gun, they shouldn’t start with automatic weapons.”

For everyone who knows a young child, put yourself in the girl’s parents’ shoes. How would you feel if your child was needlessly traumatized because you let them hold a gun?

“As a parent and as a grandparent, I don’t want any harm to come to the young kids,” said Duncan.