VA boy who shot teacher took gun from mother

VA boy who shot teacher took gun from mother
AP Photo/Jae C. Hong

The shooting of a teacher in a Virginia school by a six-year-old student has shocked a lot of people. It’s also spurred many to call for various bits of gun control.

Let’s be clear, there’s something wrong when a six-year-old takes a gun to school. Yet that’s what happened.

Now, it’s being reported that the gun was lawfully purchased by the boy’s mother.

A six-year-old pupil who shot his teacher used a gun that belonged to his mother and was legally owned, police have said.

Authorities said there was no fight or physical struggle before the boy opened fire on Abby Zwerner as she taught a lesson at a school in the US state of Virginia.

Police chief Steve Drew said the boy had taken the 9mm handgun from his family home in a backpack on the day of the shooting.

Providing the first detailed description of a shooting that has shocked the city of Newport News and a country now accustomed to gun violence, he told a news conference: “What we know today is that she was providing instruction. He displayed a firearm, he pointed it and he fired one round.”

For many, this incident is proof that we need all kinds of gun control laws. That’s been especially true in the UK, which seems to want to involve itself in American politics far more than it should.

Regardless, the fact that the gun was lawfully purchased is, in my mind, irrelevant.

What’s relevant is that the mother in question didn’t have the gun secured. Regardless of the laws on the books, that’s just common sense. Yet even if that had been the law, it’s ridiculous to assume the law would have been followed.

Why do I say that?

There are a couple of reasons. The first is that mandatory storage laws assume that those who would be so irresponsible as to leave guns in reach of young children would follow such a law, which shouldn’t be taken as a slam dunk by any stretch of the imagination.

The second is that it also assumes everyone knows about the law in question. While ignorance of the law is no defense for breaking that law, if the purpose of some bit of legislation is to save lives, people’s ignorance may undermine that purpose.

After all, as the above-linked piece noted, there are penalties in place in Virginia.

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 misdemeanour, punishable by a maximum jail sentence of one year and a maximum fine of $2,500.

Bet the mom in question didn’t know that, though.

Look, I get the shock over this story, but I can’t help but wonder what aren’t we being told. A 6-year-old, well-adjusted kid doesn’t just randomly decide to shoot their teacher. Something else is going on here, and all this talk about the gun and how it wasn’t locked up is just distracting us from the fact that something is very wrong here.

Those are the questions we really need answered. Unfortunately, it seems no one is interested in answering them.