Father of competitive shooter Shyanne Roberts says children can be safe around guns

Dan Roberts says his 9-year-old daughter is also

Dan Roberts says his 9-year-old daughter is also a competitive shooter, but not the girl involved in the fatal shooting of a gun instructor. (Credit: News 12 New Jersey)

GLOUCESTER COUNTY - A South Jersey father says the tragedy at an Arizona gun range is an opportunity to talk about children and guns.

Dan Roberts says his 9-year-old daughter is also a competitive shooter, but not the girl involved in the fatal shooting of a gun instructor.

Authorities say the unidentified New Jersey girl was vacationing with her parents in Arizona on Monday when she couldn't handle the recoil from a fully automatic Uzi. Charles Vacca, 39, was shot in the head and killed.

The incident has raised questions about whether any 9-year-old should be handling those weapons.

"I have been around adults that shouldn't be within 300 yards of a sling shot," Dan Roberts says. "I have a 9-year-old girl who's a highly sponsored competitive athlete."

Shyanne Roberts has won shooting tournaments and lobbied for second amendment rights. She has seen a video posted online of the moments before the fatal shooting. "It seems a little bit scary because she wasn't in full control, she didn't really know much about it," she says.

Both father and daughter believe the instructor should have positioned himself differently. Dan Roberts also says the Arizona instructor should not have been standing next to the girl and the Uzi should not have been used in fully automatic mode.

Despite the incident the pair don't believe a 9-year-old is too young for guns, but others disagree.

The New Jersey chapter of Moms Demand Action say the incident shines a light on the need for gun control. In a statement the group says, "We also hope that this event will lead to a national discussion about children and guns. While not the case in this situation, we can't help but be reminded of the fact that more than 2 million American children live in homes with unsecured guns." 

Shyanne and her father say safety violations have led to regular competitors being disqualified from shooting tournaments. Dan Roberts says it's important for everyone, from seasoned pros to beginners like the girl in the video. "She did exactly what she was told to do by the person in authority that made a series of mistakes that culminated in this tragedy."

Shyanne says she'll continue to compete in shooting tournaments. 

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