A closer look at area gun range safety


BELLEVUE – The owner of an area gun range believes age isn’t an issue when it comes to gun use. However, some health experts disagree.

Earlier this week, a gun instructor was killed in Arizona when a nine-year-old girl shot him with a fully automatic Uzi. The incident has sparked a debate about age and gun use. FOX 11 talked to both sides.

With proper training and supervision, gun range owner Mike Shea said anyone can use a gun.

“There’s some nine-year-olds that I would trust with a gun versus some 30-year-olds that I wouldn’t,” said Shea.

But a spokesperson for the American Academy of Pediatrics said kids using guns results in too many tragedies, like what happened in Arizona.

“As a pediatrician, I think that the combination of kids and guns is dangerous,” said Dr. Denise Dowd.

Shea said the Arizona instructor was in the wrong position, and the gun was too advanced for the girl’s skill level.

“It’s more about skill and technique than it is about the size or the age,” said Shea. “It comes down to skill, technique and maturity.”

Under Wisconsin law, people of any age can shoot a gun at a range. Shea said he requires customers under 16 to have a parent or guardian in their lane while they shoot.

Meanwhile, Dowd said there should be age limits for gun ranges like there are for driving.

“Unfortunately, we have not had that conversation around guns,” she said.

Shea has another view.

“I’ve got some eight or nine-year-olds that come in here and shoot great,” he said. “They’ve been shooting probably longer than a lot of adults that come in here.”

Shea offers careful instructions to inexperienced shooters, like FOX 11′s Andrew LaCombe. Until now, he never had shot a gun.

However, Shea pointed out the 9 mm handgun he used to teach LaCombe is not fully automatic like the weapon the girl in Arizona used.

“In reviewing the video, it made us and many other instructors and range owners evaluate their policies and things that we do,” said Shea. “And we looked at it, and there were some obvious mistakes.”

Shea said his policies ensure a similar incident won’t happen so he didn’t make any changes.

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