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Messed up world putting guns in hands of children ... no matter what context

In a week when the local news was dominated by the appalling sight of an elderly couple being turfed out of their rented accommodation in their nightclothes - despite having dutifully paid their rent for the past 15 years - there was no shortage of depressing stories from overseas to have you curling up under the duvet and just hoping that the world would sort itself out sometime soon.

Not that there's much chance of that happening, as Vladimir Putin's Russia becomes increasingly embroiled in the conflict in Eastern Ukraine, an escalation of hostilities which can only have any student of history quaking in their boots.

The Americans have been making rather ineffectual noises about the situation, but with Barack Obama now a lame duck President, the US's once-unassailable position as the world's policeman doesn't carry too much weight any more.

In America itself, one can't but help being shocked at the death of shooting instructor Charles Vacca in Arizona, the victim of an accident in which a 9-year-old girl was firing an Uzi in full automatic mode.

Now, in the past I've spoken to a member of the IDF, former soldiers in the Irish defence forces and gardai who've mentioned how that particular weapon is a handful even for an adult with firearms experience, so to think that a child could even be allowed near such a weapon is unfathomable.

A recent Channel 4 documentary, Kids with Guns, made for jaw-dropping viewing as we saw children as young as 4 years of age being given guns as birthday presents.


It's perfectly understandable that if certain youngsters need to use a gun, let's say from a farming community where they might be around them, then certainly they should be given proper instruction in how to handle them.

But in what possible circumstances would a pre-teen from New Jersey need to know how to operate a powerful automatic assault weapon?

Elsewhere, it was business as usual in the Middle East with the latest ceasefire in Gaza being celebrated by children displaying replica weapons and those lovely lads in Hamas showing their true colours with a few public executions of "suspected collaborators".

Interestingly enough, there wasn't a word about this out of the Shinners, despite their concern for innocent lives in Gaza being so great that they demanded the recall of the Seanad for a debate a couple of weeks back.

Then again, I suppose some of the more hardline, old school members among the party's ranks would have no problem at all with suspected collaborators being murdered in such a summary fashion.


Meanwhile, over in the UK, the report into the sexual abuse case in Rotherham was truly appalling, with the revelation that evidence of the rape of more than 1,400 girls - some as young as 11 - was "disbelieved, suppressed or ignored" on the grounds that those involved were of Pakistani origin and any pursuit of justice could be deemed as "racist".

If ever you needed proof that Western values are under serious threat - as much from namby-pamby liberalism as creeping cultural intrusion - then here it was, a clear and tragic example of what happens when the perpetrators of terrible crimes are effectively given a pass because of their ethnicity.

When a former Rotherham MP, Denis MacShane, admitted to BBC's World at One that he hadn't wanted to "rock the multicultural community boat" then you know things are bad and only going to get worse.