Page last updated at 09:44 GMT, Tuesday, 28 October 2008

Death at show fuels US gun debate

Sign outside Westfield Sportmen's Club, Westfield, Massachusetts, 27 October 2008
The boy was under supervision when the accident happened

New questions have been raised about US gun laws after a boy aged eight shot himself in the head with a submachine gun at a Massachusetts weapons fair.

Christopher Bizilj died after losing control of a recoiling Uzi submachine gun as he fired it at a pumpkin.

Both the boy's father and an instructor were present when the accident happened on Sunday at the gun show in Westfield.

State legislators are now considering drafting a bill banning under-21s from firing automatic weapons, reports say.

"We should take swift action to provide some reasonable restrictions on this type of unreasonable practice," Congressman Michael Costello told the Boston Globe newspaper.

"It's almost indescribable that within a year of leaving a booster seat, an eight-year-old can be holding a submachine gun."

Strict laws

The boy's father, Charles Bizilj, said he was 10ft (3m) behind Christopher when the accident happened at the Machine Gun Shoot and Firearms Expo.

Mr Bizilj told the Globe he had allowed his son to shoot the Uzi - which can fire hundreds of rounds a minute - because it was considered to have little recoil.

He said Christopher had fired handguns and rifles before, but never an automatic weapon.

"This is a horrible event, a horrible travesty, and I really don't know why it happened," said Mr Bizilj, a hospital director from Ashford, Connecticut.

Police have described the incident as a "self-inflicted accidental shooting".

But they are continuing to investigate whether the fair's organisers and Westfield Sportsmen's Club - the private shooting club where the gun show was held - held the appropriate licences.

Massachusetts has strict gun laws that require parental consent and the presence of a certified and licensed instructor before a child is allowed to fire a weapon.

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