6-year-old brought gun from home in Newport News school shooting, police say

Richneck Elementary serves more than 550 students; more than half of them are black and Hispanic, and about a quarter are white. He named a security officer on his website.

Several experts pointed to mental health counseling and support as a better investment for schools and said officials should look outside schools to prevent violence.

Jagdish Khubchandani, a professor of public health at New Mexico State University who has studied school violence, pointed out research which found that children under 10 were as likely as older children to know where guns were kept in the home. Another study found that 70 percent of 5- to 6-year-olds and 90 percent of 7- to 8-year-olds had enough finger strength to pull the trigger.

“The kids know where the guns are and how they’re stored,” he said.

There were still many unknowns in the Virginia case, including how exactly the gun got into the child’s hands or how it was stored.

Dan Semenza, director of interpersonal violence research at the New Jersey Center for the Study of Gun Violence at Rutgers University, said the surest way to prevent children from using guns “is to not have a firearm in a child’s home.” .

Still, he said, there are ways to limit access even with guns in the home. “You’re talking about a gun cabinet or a gun safe where the firearm is separate from the ammunition,” he said. “Even more secure would be to have some kind of lock that’s biometric,” he added, so that only a specific person can access it, similar to using face or finger technology to log into a cell phone.

One effective, reliable place to provide education about these safety measures is the pediatrician’s office, which almost all families visit, he said. “If the pediatrician feels comfortable asking, ‘Do you have a firearm in the house?’ Do you have access to a safe storage mechanism?” he said, adding: β€œIt’s more preventative.”

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