Elementary student shoots teacher, reignites gun control debate

Earlier this month, a 6-year-old student in Newport News, Va. brought a gun to school and shot his 25-year-old teacher. Thankfully, teacher Abby Zwerner is recovering from the incident, but the boy and his family will never be the same – and honestly, neither will education.

News of school shootings is not uncommon in today’s society, but the person behind the gun being a 6-year-old was completely unheard of before now. According to the parents of the boy, he does suffer from a disability, but the problem here lies within the accessibility to weapons.

According to ABC News, the boy’s parents claimed that the gun was secure within their home, but how secure can a gun truly be if a child can figure out how to access it? Another question we’ve been left asking is where were his parents when he was taking this gun out from wherever it was and putting it in his backpack?

His family told reporters that their son “was under a care plan at the school that included his mother or father attending school with him and accompanying him to class every day,” and of course, the shooting was on a day where neither of them were in attendance, according to ABC. If both parents knew that neither of them were going to chaperone their son that day, why would they not take the extra step to help him get ready and check his belongings?

What were they doing for so long that morning that gave their son ample time to secure the weapon and hide it? There are countless unanswered questions regarding this case, but one thing I know for sure is that no one can say they are safe anymore, because if a 6-year-old can shoot his teacher, then what can’t be done to harm someone?

Haley Mathis, a sophomore elementary education and special education major here at Ramapo says that “teaching is something [she has] always wanted to do, so it is absolutely disheartening to know that things like a school shooting can happen no matter the district.”

When asked about her concerns about gun control as a future educator, she said that “It definitely is concerning that there are no stricter gun laws in our society to prevent something like this from happening again. I would like to think that officials would want to take all the necessary precautions to make sure that all the students and teachers feel safe in the schools where they teach.”

Zwerner, the victim, is  filing a lawsuit against the school. She and her peers warned their superiors multiple times about a student having a weapon, and nothing was done. One educator even received a complaint from a student who told her that the boy showed him the gun and told him he’d shoot if he told. When she brought this up to the administration, it was not taken care of. How was anyone supposed to feel safe there?

I asked Mathis how safe she felt on campus, and while she did say that “these situations are kind of different, as on our college campus virtually anyone can come onto campus to visit students or colleagues,” that is precisely where the issue lies.

Anyone can come to our campus whenever they want. There is no identification check at the front gate, and even if there was, people can get here through the commuter lot and walk wherever they want to go before it is blocked off. If a 6-year-old can get ahold of a gun, then who can’t? If someone had a gun in their backpack and was walking around campus, I doubt anyone would notice. I hate to possibly make anyone feel unsafe here, but it’s the unfortunate truth. Feeling safe is something that should be natural to us, but today, it honestly just feels like a gift.



Photo courtesy of Tony Webster, Flickr