The tragic death of an 8-year-old boy in Massachusetts recently has put renewed attention on the Second Amendment. The boy was firing a machine gun during a supervised event. He lost control when the powerful weapon recoiled; it turned and he was fatally shot.

In years past, this type of accident would have incited fierce disagreement among gun and anti-gun advocates about our right to bear arms. It might still, to an extent, but the U.S. Supreme Court’s June ruling on Columbia v. Heller, a landmark Second Amendment case, has hollowed this debate.

In its decision, the court spoke succinctly: “We conclude that the Second Amendment protects an individual’s right to keep and bear arms.”

The court had avoided such a declaration. With this straightforward statement, the implied meanings of the Second Amendment became clearly defined: Americans have the constitutionally protected right to firearms.

Given Columbia v. Heller, debate about guns should move beyond interpretation of rights to discussions of responsibility. This tragedy provides a great starting point: Should children be allowed to handle such a weapon?

Our feeling is no. The danger is too great, if the slightest precaution is missed, as news reports from Massachusetts indicate happened with the boy. We can exercise our freedoms while also exercising rational judgment.

This is a refreshing new stage of the gun debate.

With the right to bear arms secured, renewed attention should be paid on bearing them right.


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