(RightIsRight.co) According to a report, the parents of a six-year-old boy who shot his teacher in Virginia may face charges over the incident if it is proven that the parents hadn’t properly secured the firearm.
The unnamed first-grade student at Richneck Elementary School in Newport News, Virginia, shot his 25-year-old teacher, Abby Zwerner, during a fight last Friday afternoon.
The child was taken into custody after the shooting. The victim’s condition is reported as serious but stable.
Steve Dew, the Newport News Police Chief, announced on Monday that the six-year-old boy had brought the gun to school in his backpack after taking it from his home.
The police chief noted that the first grader’s mother had legally bought the firearm.
According to legal experts cited by The New York Post, the minor shooter’s parents may face criminal liability because, under Virginia state law, firearms must be secured from children under 14. The parents have not been publicly identified.
At the same time, the six-year-old boy would probably not face any charges.
“You can’t charge a 6-year-old criminally, that’s pretty well established,” said Steve Duckett, a Virginia criminal defense lawyer.
He added charges against the parents were possible. However, the Newport News Police Department was still investigating the shooting incident, and it was too early to say whether the gun hadn’t been adequately secured.
“The test should come down to whether or not appropriate steps were taken to safeguard the weapon,” Duckett stated.
“If they kept [the gun] out in the wide open where anybody could grab it and do something untoward with it, that does expose them potentially to some liability,” he added.
The lawyer explained that “if it was locked in a safe and they were not careless about keeping either the keys or the code to the safe out where anybody could find it and the kid broke in without their knowledge,” the child’s parents wouldn’t face charges.
The report points out the case is “unusual” due to the shooter’s young age.
“It’s really shocking. You just don’t see this happen in the legal system where you’ve got someone so young intentionally using a firearm against another person,” commented legal analyst Todd Stone.
“The parents could be charged with a misdemeanor, which would be the maximum of 12 months in jail, and realistically, it’s very fact-dependent,” he added.
Stone noted the parents could be charged with “delinquency or neglect of a minor” – charges “which sometimes can be more difficult to prove.”
Researcher David Riedman, whose database tracks US school shootings, said he knew of only three other shootings by 6-year-olds and one by a 5-year-old.
“It’s very rare, and it’s not something the legal system is really designed or positioned to deal with,” Riedman said.
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