Right to bear arms should be subject to common sense

A news item out of Arizona is an example that even a constitutional right carries a lot of responsibility.

What was supposed to be a fun family day at the shooting range on Monday turned to tragedy when a nine-year-old girl, with her parents standing by videotaping her, accidentally shot and killed a shooting range instructor as he was teaching her how to shoot an Uzi automatic weapon. The recoil from the weapon caused the gun to rise over her head as she held down the trigger, and the bullets hit the instructor, Charles Vacca, 39, in the head.

We have no problem with parents wanting their children to learn how to safely handle firearms. Locally, the Izaak Walton League holds regular training sessions for young people, and it helps introduce them to the world of recreational hunting and target shooting.

But to give an automatic weapon like an Uzi, which has a reputation for a rapidly climbing recoil even in experienced hands, to a child is inexcusable folly. The instructor paid with his life, and the child – an innocent victim of this tragedy – will now have to live with this traumatic experience for the rest of her life.

But the parents and the gun range that allowed this to happen should be held accountable.

The right to bear arms should be accompanied by the responsibility to see that those arms are used safely and responsibly, especially if children are going to be using them.

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