On Friday, January 6, Virginia elementary school teacher Abby Zwerner was seriously injured after she was shot by a six-year-old student. According to CNN, the incident occurred at Richneck Elementary School in the city of Newport News. At approximately 2 pm, after a brief dispute, Abby Zwerner allegedly attempted to confiscate a Taurus 9mm pistol from one of her six-year-old male students.
The student, in attempts to resist her, subsequently shot Zwerner in the upper chest and her hand. Investigators have deemed the shooting to be intentional.
According to the New York Post, the student had found the gun at her house before putting it in her backpack and taking it to school. According to The Guardian, Newport News authorities determined that the firearm was a legally purchased gun that belonged to the mother of six.
The BBC reported that the boy involved in the shooting is currently in police custody. Authorities have not disclosed whether or not her mother will face legal consequences.
Abby Zwerner shooting sparks outrage among officials
The shooting has once again sparked debates over gun laws in the United States. Officials have argued that due to lax firearms restrictions, incidents like the shooting of Abby Zwerner are unavoidable.
Newport News Mayor Phillip Jones said the incident should be considered a “red flag” for the country.
In an official press release, he stated:
“I think after this event, there will be a nationwide discussion about how these kinds of things can be prevented.”
In an interview with The Guardian, Daniel Webster, a professor and gun violence expert at John Hopkins University, said shootings by children are not isolated incidents.
“A six-year-old accessing a loaded gun and shooting himself or someone else is unfortunately not that rare.”
School Superintendent George Parker also said the horrific shooting has only served to introduce students to the endemic gun violence that can be seen across the country.
“Our students learned a lesson about gun violence and what guns can do to disrupt not just an educational environment, but also a family, a community.”
According to USA Today, the six-year-old shooter’s mother has been held responsible for the assault. The publication reported that under Virginia law, failing to secure a loaded gun from children’s access could lead to up to a year in prison, as well as a $2,500 fine.
The six-year-old, on the other hand, cannot face legal repercussions since he is less than 7 years old. Virginia law considers a child of this age not capable of forming “criminal intent” and therefore cannot be prosecuted. . CBS reported, however, that the student is currently being evaluated by mental health professionals.
As of Monday, January 9, Abby Zwerner is listed in stable condition.