Richneck School District Houses an Altercation That Will Forever Rock Our Nation

Richneck School District Houses an Altercation That Will Forever Rock Our Nation

Alex Siles, Staff Writer

This past Friday, January 6th, 2022, an armed 6-year-old student shot his teacher, Abby Zwerner, 25, after pulling a handgun out during class at Richneck Elementary School in Virginia. After being shot, Zwerner had reportedly “urged her students to flee” according to The Guardian news, even as she was severely injured on her classroom floor. Soon after, she was rushed to the hospital and over the weekend reached a stable condition. The 1st grade shooter was arrested, and it left not only Virginia authorities, but our whole nation with two impossible questions: How do we handle this and how can we stop this from happening again? 

 To start, this was far from the first violent incident in Richneck School District. In the last 17 months alone, there have been two other gun related incidents. This includes shots fired in a busy hallway in September 2021 that injured two and a fatal shooting two months later at a sports game (Wavy). This has parents of Richneck County calling for action as Molly Hunter, a mother of three says, “the response from the district has made parents feel like violence isn’t being properly addressed” to NBC news. This raises many concerns about how school districts can let violence go unchecked the way it has been. 

Violent acts committed at younger ages are rising not only in Richneck, but nationwide as gun laws become more lenient, violence in media is becoming common nature, and it is noticed as “a red flag for our country” according to Mayor Jones. Young children also appear to have much easier access to firearms and that causes concern in society. This can be seen by the rise of shootings among underage users and the increase of accidents involving minors who were “playing” with firearms ( It seems that the only way to fix this is to make our gun laws more sensible. Just a few ways we can do this are: making it illegal for criminals to obtain weapons, outlawing gun possession without a locked place to house those weapons and educating both owners and children about the seriousness of the weapon and about gun violence’s influence on society (Stanford). These would help not only because violent offenders are likely to repeat violent offenses (United States Sentencing Commission) and allowing them access to firearms could increase the possibility of fatality in their crimes and/or the “body count” but also the fact that keeping guns in a locked place can lower the chances of minors or unauthorized people can gain possession of a firearm.  

Now that begs the question, how do we handle this situation? The big issue with prosecution and sentencing is his age. We obviously cannot let this go unpunished, but where would we put him if we sent him to juvenile detention? He cannot stay with the rest of the general population due to the danger of being with much older and potentially violent juveniles. There are also the factors that any judge or jury would consider: does he understand what he did? Does he feel remorse for what he did? 

Even when we can find the proper punishment for his actions, this incident will leave a permanent impact on our nation’s school and justice system.