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Saturday, June 15
The Indiana Daily Student

Bullets and burgers

Two more innocent citizens joined the ranks of victims of American gun violence Monday.

Las Vegas News Now reported that a 9-year-old girl accidentally shot and killed her 39-year-old shooting instructor at the Bullets and Burgers gun range in White Hills, Ariz.

When she pulled the trigger, the gun’s immense recoil overpowered her and sent the weapon up over her head, at which point Charles Vacca, the instructor standing over her, was fatally shot.

Unlike the horrific incidents of mass gun violence that have dominated the media within recent years, both of these victims were mentally healthy. The shooting happened in a stable environment.

The highly normal, even popular, nature of the accident's environment heightens Vacca’s death from tragic to terrifying.

Even in a controlled setting with an expert present, an innocent man was killed, and a young girl was saddled with the unimaginable psychological trauma of her accident.

If weapons are not safe in an expert’s hands, they cannot be safe at all.

Footage on the local Channel 8 News website shows Vacca in military fatigues standing next to a little girl in pink shorts holding an Uzi, the same gun James Huberty used to kill 21 people inside a California McDonalds in 1984.

Her instructor adjusts her grip, corrects her stance and demonstrates how to fire the weapon.

The operator of Bullets and Burgers said there had never been any incident or injury in its 12 years of business.

The range’s glib, alliterative title is nauseating in the wake of Vacca’s death. Bullets and burgers belong together about as much as little girls and machine guns.

This casual attitude toward guns is evidence of Americans’ foolish domestication of weapons, and unless prudent action is taken, more will suffer.

That 9-year-old child is a psychological victim of gun violence alongside innumerable other children who have accidentally administered fatal shots to adults and young friends alike.

In September 2013, the New York Times reported that the deaths of children from gun accidents are usually classified as homicides or suicides.

They identified nearly twice as many accidental killings as were tallied in the federal data for four of the five states they examined.

I am exhausted, discouraged and enraged by the repetitive nature of this sentiment, but I feel compelled to ask again: how much death is too much death?

How many shootings, both intentional acts of murder and heartbreaking accidents, are enough to demand lasting change?

Gun violence harms every member of a society whose devotion to unchecked freedom has distorted its conceptions of safety and normalcy.

We cannot afford to ignore the horrific consequences any longer.

We couldn’t afford to in July 1984, April 1999, April 2007, November 2009, July 2012, December 2012 or September 2013, and we absolutely cannot now.

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