The Limited Times

Now you can see non-English news...

A 6-year-old boy shot a Virginia teacher with his mother's gun. Tragedy highlights lack of strong safe storage laws across the country


Ever since a six-year-old boy in Newport News, Virginia took a gun from home, brought it to school, and shot his teacher, community members and officials are grappling with a troubling question: how did he get Did the child have access to a loaded firearm?

USA: 6-year-old boy shot his teacher 0:33

(CNN) --

In the week since a 6-year-old boy in Newport News, Virginia took a gun from home, brought it to school and shot his teacher, community members and officials grappled with a disturbing question: how did the boy gain access to a loaded firearm?

"There are a lot of questions we have to answer as a community," Newport News Mayor Phillip Jones told CNN, including "how could a 6-year-old have a gun (and) know how to use it in such a deliberate way... Responsible individuals will have to answer.

I can promise that."

Police tape hangs from a sign outside Richneck Elementary School following a shooting in Newport News, Virginia.

(Credit: Jay Paul/Getty Images)

Police seek answers as they investigate the events leading up to the January 6 shooting at Richneck Elementary School, which injured a 25-year-old elementary school teacher identified by authorities as Abigail Zwerner.

Although her injuries were initially described as life-threatening, Zwerner is listed in stable condition as of Saturday, according to the city's police chief, Steve Drew.

The boy, who was detained immediately after the shooting, was under a temporary detention order and was being evaluated at a hospital, police said Monday.

The gun allegedly used in the incident was legally purchased by the boy's mother, who could face charges at the end of the investigation, Drew said.

It was the first school shooting in the United States in 2023, according to a CNN analysis, which highlights what some gun policy experts believe is a dire need for stronger and more consistent laws across the country, requiring Adults keep their guns safely out of the reach of children and others not authorized to use them.

It also reveals a lack of public education about the responsibility of gun owners to keep their guns unloaded, locked up and away from ammunition, experts said.


  • The gun a 6-year-old boy allegedly fired at his teacher in Virginia was bought by the boy's mother, police say

Research shows that child access prevention and secure storage laws are effective in reducing shootings among youth, according to a report released Tuesday by the RAND Corporation, a public policy research organization.

The report recommends that states that do not have such laws consider adopting them to reduce suicides, homicides, and unintentional injuries and firearm-related deaths among youth.

“Unsecured firearms in homes and cars drive our much broader and much more prevalent gun violence problem in America,” said Cassandra Crifasi, a professor at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health who studies the effects of policy. of weapons.

  • Elementary student describes horror of Virginia school lockdown where police say 6-year-old boy shot female teacher

“It's important to frame the issue not only to keep you and your family member safe at home, but also to make sure the guns you own don't end up in the hands of people who shouldn't have them and could use them to harm other people.” , said.

Many communities across the country are familiar with the traumatic effects of school shootings, which have become exceedingly common in the United States compared to any other country.

In 2022, there were 60 shootings at K-12 schools, according to a CNN analysis.

But school shootings by such a young suspect are relatively rare.

According to the K-12 School Shooting Database, which tracks shootings in American schools since 1970, there have been three other cases in which the suspect was as young as six: in 2000, 2011 and 2021.

Child recounts horror after Virginia school shooting 1:39

Still, each year, hundreds of children in the United States gain access to firearms and inadvertently shoot themselves or someone else, according to research by Everytown for Gun Safety, a leading nonprofit organization that focuses on the prevention of armed violence.

In 2022, there were 301 unintentional shootings by children, resulting in 133 deaths and 180 injuries nationally, Everytown data shows.

Last June, a one-year-old girl was fatally shot and another boy was injured after an eight-year-old boy accidentally shot them while playing with his father's gun in Florida.

Escambia County Sheriff Chip Simmons said the father left his gun in a closet in the bedroom in what he thought was a safe holster.

Then, in July, an eight-year-old boy was shot to death in Arkansas by his five-year-old brother in what authorities believed was an accidental shooting.

Stricter laws come with penalties, experts say

There are key differences between child access prevention laws and secure storage laws, and the provisions of each vary widely from state to state.

Safe storage laws often have criteria for how the gun should be stored: loaded, unloaded, or separate from ammunition.

Child access prevention laws are more flexible and generally say that gun owners should not knowingly store guns in a place where a child could access them, according to Crifasi.

“It's a bit more flexible policy in that it could allow a gun owner to store a gun in a way that best suits their needs,” Crifasi said.

"As long as you don't knowingly think a child could access that weapon, then you're not necessarily breaking the law."

  • Biden signs a bipartisan gun safety bill: 'God willing, it will save many lives'

“The problem with many child access prevention laws is that there aren't enough clear guidelines on how guns should be stored safely,” he added.

Twenty-three states and the city of Washington have laws in place regarding the storage of firearms, while eight states have laws requiring owners to insure their firearms, according to research by Everytown.

Fifteen states and the city of Washington have child access prevention laws, which generally provide that a person will be liable if they failed to securely store a firearm accessed by a minor, according to Everytown.

Students and police gather outside Richneck Elementary School after a shooting, Friday, January 6, 2023, in Newport News, Virginia.

(Credit: Billy Schuerman/The Virginian-Pilot/AP)

More states are considering some form of safe storage legislation, and most recently, Illinois passed a law last year that requires the Department of Public Health to develop and implement a public awareness campaign on safe gun storage.

Under Virginia law, it is a misdemeanor for an adult to leave a firearm loaded and unsecured in such a way as to endanger a child under the age of 14.

The statute also makes it illegal for a person to unknowingly allow a child under the age of 12 to use a firearm.

In some rare cases, parents of children who gain access to firearms in the family home are prosecuted.

Last June, for example, a Florida mother of three was charged with manslaughter after her two-year-old son took an unlocked gun and fatally shot her father in her home, she reported. CNN previously.

  • America's gun epidemic is deadlier than ever, and there are wide disparities in who dies

“Very rarely are people held accountable when someone unauthorized, like a child, gains access to their firearms and uses them to harm themselves or someone else,” Crifasi explained.

“It is extremely rare to see people charged and punished in any way with fines or even jail time.”

Research shows that the most restrictive laws regarding safe storage or preventing children's access are also the most effective, said Lois Kaye Lee, a pediatrician and president of the American Academy of Poison, Violence and Injury Prevention Council. Pediatrics.

States that hold gun owners criminally liable for any violation are associated with lower rates of firearm deaths in children under the age of 14, said Lee, who is one of the authors of the 2019 study.

“In some states they are misdemeanors, like Virginia, and in other states they are felonies.

The penalties are different, the level of restriction is different, and that, at least in our study, seems to make a difference when looking at gun deaths among children,” Lee said.

Public education is vital, say experts

An essential factor in all gun safety laws, including safe storage and preventing access by children, is public awareness and education about how guns should be safely stored, experts said.

  • These 35 countries, unlike the US, have strict gun laws.

“We don't have a well-funded public education campaign for the general public to understand the risks of children being around unsecured firearms, and that's because of gun policy,” Annie said. Andrews, a professor of pediatrics at the Medical University of South Carolina and an expert in gun violence prevention.

As a pediatrician, Andrews said that in recent years he has focused on making it more acceptable in his workplace to ask parents of children during checkups if they have firearms in the home and if they are safely stored.

“We offer gun locks, free of charge, to parents who say they have firearms at home that are not stored securely,” Andrews said.

"So it's a team effort: pediatricians, school districts, public health departments, and our legislators have to work together to reduce the incidence of these tragedies."

It's a natural part of a child's development to want to learn and explore their environment, so parents or caregivers are responsible for making sure their spaces are safe, said Dr. Kelsey Gastineau, a Nashville pediatrician and public health specialist and researcher. .

Gastineau is also an activist for the Be SMART program, a framework to help normalize conversations and educate adults about safe firearm storage.

The campaign was launched in 2015 by Moms Demand Action, which has been fighting for gun safety measures since the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in 2012.

BE Smart volunteers have urged school boards in states like Texas, California, and Arkansas to enact safe storage notification policies.

Starting in December, more than 8.5 million students “will live in a school district that requires schools to educate parents on the importance of safe firearms storage” in the 2023-2024 school year, according to a statement. of the Bell.

“When these shootings happen, there is so much desperation, so much tragedy and fear that can spread through communities,” Gastineau said, “Giving people a place to go and find something they can do is very important.”


Source: cnnespanol

All news articles on 2023-01-16

You may like

Trends 24h


© Communities 2019 - Privacy

The information on this site is from external sources that are not under our control.
The inclusion of any links does not necessarily imply a recommendation or endorse the views expressed within them.