ATF: Site of Uzi shooting by 9-year-old girl has clean federal record

The site of this week’s fatal Uzi shooting involving a 9-year-old girl in Arizona has a clean federal inspection record, an official from the Bureau of Alcohol, Firearms, Tobacco and Explosives said Tuesday.

Special agent Tom Mangan said the ATF conducted inspections in 2009 and 2010 of the firearms license affiliated with the business where 39-year-old shooting instructor Charles Vacca was shot Monday morning. A third inspection initiated this year before the shooting was currently being finalized.

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No violations had been found in any of the inspections, he said.

“We’ve found them to be in compliance with the rules and regulations that ATF enforces,” he added.

But those regulations largely focus on possession and transactions of firearms with the licensee, which Mangan said was listed as “Sam’s Gun Emporium.” The ATF does not regulate shooting range operations, which are the province of local and state authorities, he said.

Neither the ATF nor the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration is investigating the accident. Arizona is among 22 states that operate their own workplace health and safety programs. While overseen by OSHA, the federal agency would only step in to investigate if federal employees were involved.

Mangan said the business was licensed to have — and legally sell — the weapon in question, which he described as a Uzi “machine pistol” with a collapsible shoulder brace.

He said the automatic weapon would tend to rise up in the hands of an untrained adult firing it for the first time.

“As tragic as that accident is, this little girl could easily have been killed,” he said.

The shooting has renewed attention on the issue of gun control in Washington, where White House press secretary Josh Earnest fielded questions about the case Wednesday afternoon.

Earnest declined to discuss the specifics of the shooting, but said “it certainly doesn’t change” President Obama’s view that Congress should pass gun control legislation. 

Obama has called for a ban on assault weapons and large capacity ammunition magazines, in addition to regulations requiring background checks for all commercial gun sales.

“What impact that kind of legislation would have on this situation is difficult to assess without knowing the circumstances here,” Earnest said. “But it certainly — tragic incidents like this certainly don't undermine the case that the president has been making on this.” 

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