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No civilian EVER needs an Uzi, never mind a nine-year-old girl

The Uzi is an interesting weapon. First used by the Israeli Defence Forces, it found a happy home among mechanized infantry and with soldiers who needed to clear bunkers of personnel.

It excelled in this role in part because of its rate of fire - in the time it's taken you to read this, an Uzi could have launched 300 bullets, each travelling 500kph faster than the speed of sound.

All in all, a tremendous tool for inflicting a lot of close-quarter death.

Entirely logical then that the parents of a nine-year-old girl in Arizona taught their daughter to shoot one.

After all, what parent hasn't picked up a child from fourth class and thought, 'You know, with her tenth birthday approaching, it's probably time she learned to handle a military-spec sub-machine gun'?

This particular little girl's lessons did not go well. She shot her instructor, Charles Vacca, dead. His last words were reportedly, "all right, full auto", as he switched the gun to a searing stream of rounds. When the little girl puled the trigger, the kickback twisted the gun around, killing Mr Vacca.

When asked about the incident, the owner of the gun-range said it was within their regulations for the little girl to use the gun. Actually, he pointed out she was a little late to the Uzi-party, as they allow kids as young as 8 to fire automatic weapons.

As sad as the incident is for Charles Vacca and the little girl involved, it does once and for all prove that America's relationship with guns is nuts.

No civilian needs an Uzi.

Defending your home does not require pumping 400 rounds a minute down the hallway.

Yet, US law allows a 9-year-old girl be tooled up like she's in Mossad.

Shying away from horror

The media failing to show the beheading of James Foley was well-meaning, but it may have been wrong. News outlets and websites moved quickly to suppress the footage of his death, in good taste, and in respect for Foley (inset below) and his family.

The difficultly is, decisions like that can sanitize reality in their efforts to protect people from horror.

James Foley's death is part of an extraordinary pattern of brutality and killing in the Middle East.

From heads being sawn off to hands being severed, to forced subjugation of women, to flogging, to genocide.

Most of which we never see and therefore largely ignore. But people ignore death and war a lot less when they actually see it.

Take the Vietnam war; it was the first truly televised combat - people back home could watch armed conflict. They didn't like it, and rose up against it.

James Foley was a photojournalist. He was in Iraq seeking to show what was happening there.

Maybe the time is coming where the only way we'll get people to engage with what's happening (and what he was reporting on) is to soften the definition of 'good taste' and end disengagement with a small dose of horror.

System failure for recruitment

The head of the US Department of Justice's Cybercrime division, Timothy DiFoggi, has been convicted after he was caught logging on to child porn sites.

This begs two questions about their recruitment procedures. First, how did they hire someone with his moral framework?

Second, how did they hire someone as a cybercrime specialist who isn't skilled enough to even cover up his own cybercrimes?


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