It’s unlikely that the 6-year-old child who is accused of shooting his teacher in Virginia on Friday with a gun he allegedly stole from home will face charges, but depending on how well they secured the firearm, his parents may be held legally liable, experts said. According to Newport News police, the gun used in the incident was lawfully acquired by the student’s mother. However, it is unclear how the youngster came into possession of the weapon or if it was properly stored.
According to Allison Anderman, senior counsel and director of local policy at the Giffords Regulation Center to Prevent Gun Violence, Virginia, unlike Massachusetts and Oregon, doesn’t have a law that defines how to protect guns in a home.
It does have a misdemeanor statute designed to keep kids under 14 away from access to weapons, according to Anderman. Authorities said the child, whose age prevents his public identification, shot first-grade teacher Abigail Zwerner as she was instructing a class of around 20 students at Richneck Elementary School.
Zwerner, who suffered injuries when the bullet entered her upper chest through her hand, has been lauded as a hero. Despite being hurt, she was able to lead pupils out of the classroom safely, said to Police Chief Steve Drew on Monday.
According to Drew, the child used a 9mm Taurus rifle that he had taken from his house to shoot Zwerner. A “important factor” for investigators will be figuring out if or how the gun was secured inside the house, he said. The mother might be charged under Virginia law, Drew said to CNN on Tuesday, but he noted that there are a lot of different areas that need to be looked into.
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Any decision to file charges will be made when all the information is gathered in consultation with the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office, according to Drew on Monday.
Drew only acknowledged the boy’s mother during the news conference on Monday. He made no mention of the child facing any possible charges.
Drew stated once more on Monday that he believed the youngster shot his instructor on purpose and claimed there were more rounds in the gun.
“This shooting was not accidental. It was intentional,” He said.
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