All the Uzis you can shoot!

OK, America, you’ve done it again.

Considering that you’re the country of my birth, where I lived until my mid-twenties, it shouldn’t be this easy to shock me.

The latest tragedy is today’s headline story of a 9-year old girl killing her gun instructor with, and this is the first shocker, a fully-automatic, live-round Uzi. You know, the Israeli submachine gun that’s designed to shoot Palestinians, not Americans.

When I read about this sort of thing, it reminds me just how far I’ve drifted from the “values” of my homeland. To be fair, I never much wanted to shot (at) things when I was a teenager. I’m sure that this lack of blood lust contributed to my eventual decision to tell Richard Nixon what he could do with his “Greetings from the President of the United States” letter, and a little while later my exodus from the land of the free-at-any-cost.

There are several more levels of shock and dismay in this story.

It’s not just that another senseless death has been caused by a gun. It’s also that there’s a debate starting about just how old a kid should be before handling automatic weapons is ok. One CNN writer is scolding the family for its irresponsibility in letting their daughter fire military weapons. He prefers shotguns, and he loves to take his kids to the local range to squeeze off a few. Grandpa comes along. It’s a great family outing.

I guess that it just might be, in a country with 300,000,000 firearms, where who knows how many more than the reported 375 citizens are shot to death by the police annually (next highest in the developed world is six! ).

But come on, there’s a pretty big difference between teaching gun safety to an unfortunate child who’s going to grow up in a gun-crazy society and taking the family to the local militarized kill-zone for some harmless entertainment learning that weapons of multiple destruction (aka fully-automatic rifles and machine guns) are just for kicks.

Another alien encounter is the “Bullets and Burgers” range itself. Hey, wanna shoot some guns and eat some fries? Come on down! The range advertises a true-to-life military-style experience, with all the thrills of Afghanistan or Iraq. If you can’t find any Muslims to aim at, there are lots of illegal immigrant children just down the road a bit at the border, so practice up! And just in case you need any more incentive, the range’s website brags that “At our range, you can shoot FULL auto on our machine guns. Let ’em Rip!”

Let ’em rip, indeed.

And the worst part of it all is that there are tens of millions of Americans for whom this lack-of-mindset is what passes for normal.

Parts of it are nice places to visit, but I’m so glad that I don’t live there anymore — a sentiment that occupies my thoughts more and more as the country gets crazier and crazier.

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