Six-year-old shoots teacher; Sparks massive firearm debate

Six days into the new year, Abigail Zwerner, a twenty-five year old resident of Newport News, Virginia,  attended her job as a first grade teacher at Richneck Elementary School. The events of that day made national headlines, as Zwerner was shot by one of her students. 

According to a witness of the events, Zwerner was about to start an art lesson in her classroom when an altercation occurred between her and a student, a six-year-old boy. The child pulled a 9mm Taurus pistol out of his backpack, and his teacher immediately tried to confiscate it. There was no physical quarrel between Zwerner and the student, yet when she tried to take the gun, he allegedly fired a bullet at her. He did not miss. The bullet traveled through her hand and abdomen, causing a serious wound. 

Despite her injury, Zwerner rushed her students to safety, out of the classroom and away from the firearm. She is currently being hailed as a hero. After the authorities arrived, so did the reporters, and the story gained national attention, and with that, national outrage. 

The blame of the events was set unto the parents, as the gun was owned by his mother, and many questioned her ability to parent a child, if that child is within accessibility to a firearm. 

Within a public statement, the family stated gratitude and sympathy toward the educator and amply apologized for the turn of the events. The family’s statement also said that the boy has an ‘acute disability,’ which resonated with some as an attempt to avoid fault themselves, and shift blame onto the child’s disability. 

The family’s attorney says that the gun was out of reach of the child, secured with a trigger lock. The gun was reportedly located atop a shelf inside of the mother’s closet. The family and police are unsure of how the boy came into possession of the gun, but authorities are still in an early stage of investigation. The police are also still undetermined whether or not someone in the family will be charged with unsafe storage of a firearm.

Along with accusations of blame towards the child’s parents, the school is also facing scrutiny because of a supposed ignorance towards previous complaints about the child. One staff member of the school claimed that Zwerner had sought help from school administration with the child, as he had claimed he wanted to “light a teacher on fire and watch her die.” 

The claims were allegedly downplayed, as made clear during a three hour school board meeting regarding the incident. According to highschool librarian Nicole Cooke, “Every day, [teachers are] hit. They’re bitten. They’re beaten. And [the students doing so] are allowed to stay so that our numbers look good.” 

Many teachers and faculty workers are using this event as a prime example of the result of ignoring the relentless abuse that teachers endure at the hands of their unpunished students. 

Zwerner was not fatally injured, and as of January 20th, two weeks after the shooting, the educator was released from the hospital. The day will go down in history, as an attempted murder took place at the hands of a child who cannot even spell the crime he committed.


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