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How young is too young for training kids to use guns?

By John Craven, Reporter, JCraven@wfmz.com
Published On: Aug 28 2014 09:02:18 PM CDT
Updated On: Aug 29 2014 05:31:53 AM CDT

When it comes to kids using guns, how young is too young?

EMMAUS, Pa. -

When it comes to kids using guns, how young is too young? That question is now on a lot of minds after a nine year-old girl accidentally killed her shooting instructor with an Uzi submachine gun.

If you want to learn to use a gun, Higher Ground Tactical near Emmaus is the place to do it.

"We do all the NRA Basic [shooting courses] -- pistol, rifle, shotgun, as well as advanced classes," said owner John Cramsey.

At Higher Ground, NRA certified instructors teach kids as young as eight the proper way to shoot. Children that young handling guns is now raising questions after a child in Arizona accidentally killed her instructor with an Uzi this week.

"It was tragic," said Cramsey. "It's going to haunt that poor child for the rest of her life."

Cramsey restricts kids under 12 to .22 caliber, single-shot rifles -- and only after a comprehensive, safety course that includes seven hours of classroom instruction and testing.

"That [accident] would never happen in Pennsylvania," Cramsey believes. "Not on my range, not on any other range that I know of."

Here in Pennsylvania, where hunting is a way of life, opinions are mixed about how young is too young.

"Kids can do this, as long as they're well educated," said Chris Shiffer of Orefield. "My brothers, when he was 9 years old, like this, for instance, he -- we grew up around guns."

Andy Greenlee of Emmaus sees things differently.

"I think it was very inappropriate for a nine year-old to be using a gun," she said. "I think that the limit that's set for people to be able to purchase guns is also an appropriate age for people to even handle a gun."

Jack Zylkin believes the Arizona incident was isolated.

"To pass an entire law to say that no nine year olds can be around guns because of this one freak accident seems pretty extreme," he said.

In the latest shot in the ongoing battle of gun rights versus gun rules, kids are now the center of the debate.