Children of gun instructor killed by 9-year-old at range launch campaign

ARIZONA -- It was one year ago that an instructor at an Arizona gun range was accidentally killed by a 9-year old girl firing a machine gun.

On Tuesday, the instructor's children launched a national campaign to convince lawmakers to set an age limit for the use of automatic weapons.

Army veteran Charles Vacca was standing next to an unidentified 9-year-old girl when she pulled the Uzi's trigger. The machine gun bucked up and to the left. A single bullet hit Vacca in the head.

The 39-year-old father of four died that evening. His children still struggle with the loss.

"He liked to do a lot of things that we liked to do, like we would always watch movies and play games with him," said his 12-year-old son Christopher.

His daughter 16-year-old Ellie says she still doesn't think she has come to grips with her father's death.

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Charles Vacca with his four children.
CBS News

"And since today's like the one-year anniversary, it kind of brings it all back," she said.

Shortly after the accident, the Vacca children taped a message for the little girl.

"You are only 9 years old. We think about you. We are worried about you. We pray for you," the children said in the taped message.

The family launched a national petition, urging states to set an age limit for use of automatic weapons.

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Charles Vacca's children in the video they posted urging lawmakers to not allow children to fire weapons.
We Have A Voice online campaign

"Laws say that children can't drink, can't drive, can't vote. But they can shoot fully automatic assault weapons," Ellie says in the video.

"If you look at the vast majority of states, they don't have any regulation whatsoever," said the family's attorney Marc Lamber.

But Ellie says she is not anti-gun.

"Definitely not," she said. "I am not anti-gun. I sometimes go to the range with my best friend and her dad."

Shooting instructor Charles Vacca is seen in this video image capture giving a lesson on using an Uzi to a 9-year-old girl at a gun range in Arizona Aug. 25, 2014, moments before she accidentally shot him. Vacca died from his wounds later that day.

Shooting instructor Charles Vacca is seen in this image from video giving a lesson on using an Uzi to a 9-year-old girl at a gun range in White Hills, Ariz. on Aug. 25, 2014, moments before she accidentally shot him

Mohave County Sheriff's Office

But there are people who believe that any regulation of firearms is dangerous.

"You can own a firearm -- honestly that's completely fine -- but there's no logical reason for an 8- or 9-year-old to be shooting an automatic weapon," Ellie said.

In response, the National Shooting Sports Foundation said that's for the parents to decide, not the government.

The gun range where Vacca was killed still allows children to fire machine guns.