shot her gun instructor shocking in a couple of ways: the death itself obviously, but more the fact that it is perfectly legal for a child of that age to handle and fire a high-powered Uzi submachine gun, as long as a parent or legal guardian was present. That little girl will have to live with the memory of that terrible sight as well as her guilt for the rest of her life, all because her parents decided that their Second Amendment rights were more important than their child's safety and well-being.
This deeply disturbing, but also frankly bizarre, situation brought some other strange American age limits to mind:
In the USA, young people can get behind the wheel of a potentially lethal piece of equipment much younger than over here. A learner driver's licence can be obtained between the ages of 14 and 16, and a restricted full licence between 14.5 and 16.5, depending on which state you live in.
You can lose your life fighting in the USA's armed forces at the age of 18.
On the other hand, the age at which you can legally purchase and possess alcohol is 21. The system is skewed to maintain that age nationally, because any state that lowers its alcohol purchase or possession age would lose 10% of its federal highway funding, a significant reduction in its income. In some states you can drink alcohol below 21 with the agreement of your parents or spouse, as long he or she is over 21, but nowhere can you buy or own it.
I can't help feeling that our American cousins have some priorities badly wrong.
I also can't help wondering how many domestic rows result from people aged 21 or more telling their spouses they can't have a drink.
Australian drinking culture in London, 1966–1970
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