STRUTHERS, Ohio (WKBN) – A cell phone video of a 9-year-old girl accidentally shooting and killing a firing range instructor has sparked a discussion about when children should learn to handle firearms.
Mike Miller is a firearms instructor with Miller Rod and Gun. He said his children were firing guns at an early age, but it is the caliber of firearm that makes the difference in handling.
“A standard 9 millimeter, one shot? My children were firing guns of that capacity by the time they were 7 or 8 years old. But a full automatic firearm will climb which means recoil stacks on top of itself and will cause the firearm to lift up on a continuous basis until it is done firing,” said Miller.
In Ohio, it’s up to a parent to decide if their 8 or 9-year-old is ready for range practice. At the same time, firearms instructors say those parents have to exercise common sense.
“You know, to sit there and just hand a 9-year-old child a Class 3 weapon is just totally irresponsible,” said Rick Kaleda, Buckeye Firearms Association.
Kaleda said children must be taught to respect firearms and parents must respect their children’s limitations.
“It is the responsibility of the parent to make sure that their children are proficient enough and in a place where they can handle that they are being faced with,” said Kaleda. “To hand them something they don’t have the capacity to control is very irresponsible.”
Proper training includes accident prevention which Miller said is all done in training and should be the first thing that is taught.
“We make sure the person who is going to be firing that firearm understands what they are going to be dealing with before they ever fire a shot. In this case, they young lady did not know what to expect when she squeezed that trigger,” Miller said.