On Friday, a 6-year-old boy in Newport News, VA brought a gun to school and shot his teacher in the chest. Now residents, community leaders, as well as the authorities are all asking themselves what in the world they should do with the young boy.
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According to AP, 25-year-old Abby Zwerner was teaching her first-grade class at Richneck Elementary School when the 6-year-old boy pulled out a 9mm handgun and shot Zwerner through the hand and into her chest.
After the single shot, Abby Zwerner hustled her students out of the classroom to safety before she was taken to the hospital with life-threatening wounds. She is currently listed in stable condition,
According to Newport News police Chief Steve Drew, after the shooting, an employee of the school physically restrained the boy after hearing the gunshot. Police arrived shortly after and escorted him into custody.
Now a community is trying to comprehend how a 6-year-old can get his hands on a gun and brings it to school with the intent to shoot his teacher.
This unprecedented incident also has authorities questioning if and how the young boy and his mother should be punished for his actions.
Some legal experts argue that it is theoretically possible under Virginia law to criminally charge a 6-year-old child, but because of numerous obstacles, it is highly unlikely that a prosecutor would even try.
According to AP, to be tried as an adult in Virginia, a juvenile must be at least 14. A 6-year-old is also too young to be committed to the custody of the Department of Juvenile Justice if found guilty. There is also a common law doctrine called “infancy defense,” which says that children under 7 cannot be prosecuted for a crime because they are too young to form criminal intent.
Although it is highly unlikely the boy will be tried as an adult, his mother may actually be the person who takes most of the responsibility.
According to AP, gun owners can be prosecuted under a Virginia law that prohibits anyone from recklessly leaving a loaded, unsecured gun in a manner that endangers the life or limb of children under 14.
A violation of that law is a misdemeanor, punishable by a maximum jail sentence of one year and a maximum fine of $2,500.
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