Mother of 6-year-old boy who shot teacher gets 21 months for marijuana use while owning a gun

by Ethan Kim
School shooting aftermath

The mother of a 6-year-old boy who shot his teacher in Virginia has been sentenced to 21 months in prison for using marijuana while owning a firearm, a violation of U.S. law. Deja Taylor’s son brought her handgun to school in January and shot Abby Zwerner, a first-grade teacher, causing serious injuries. Taylor’s sentencing, which took place in a U.S. District Court, represents the first accountability measure in connection with the shooting incident, which sparked a nationwide conversation about gun violence and had a significant impact on Newport News, a city with a strong military shipbuilding presence.

U.S. District Judge Mark S. Davis imposed the exact punishment that federal prosecutors had requested, emphasizing that Taylor’s actions as a parent demonstrated a “dereliction of duty and responsibility.” Judge Davis connected the physical, emotional, and psychological harm suffered by Abby Zwerner directly to Taylor’s decision to combine heavy marijuana use with firearm ownership, asserting that her son would not have had access to the weapon if she had obeyed the law.

The repercussions of the classroom shooting have also affected other students present that day, who will carry the emotional scars for the rest of their lives, according to Judge Davis.

Abby Zwerner recounted the ongoing impact of the shooting in her life during the sentencing hearing, detailing the surgeries she underwent to regain motion in her left hand and the psychological toll, including post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, and depression. Zwerner, who no longer works for the school system, expressed the profound financial and emotional losses she has suffered.

Gene Rossi, one of Taylor’s attorneys, read a brief statement from Taylor in which she expressed extreme remorse for her actions and acknowledged that she would carry that remorse with her for the rest of her life.

It’s worth noting that the federal case against Taylor comes at a time when marijuana is legal in many states, including Virginia, while firearm ownership is common among Americans. Some U.S. courts in different regions have ruled against the federal law prohibiting drug users from possessing firearms, but it remains in effect in many states.

Federal prosecutors argued that Taylor’s chronic and persistent drug abuse, combined with firearm ownership, made this case more than just a marijuana-related issue, emphasizing the dangerous nature of mixing prolonged drug use with firearms.

Taylor had previously agreed to a negotiated guilty plea in June, admitting to using marijuana while owning a gun and providing false information about her drug use when purchasing the firearm. Her attorneys had requested probation and home confinement, citing her need for counseling and treatment for schizoaffective disorder and marijuana addiction.

Taylor’s case also raises questions about the potential for the U.S. Supreme Court to revisit the federal ban on drug users owning guns, as some lower courts have issued conflicting rulings on this matter. The Supreme Court has not yet decided whether to take up the case.

In general, federal law prohibits firearm possession by individuals with felony convictions, those committed to mental institutions, or unlawful users of controlled substances, among other criteria. Last year, nearly 8,700 people were convicted under this law, with a significant portion convicted due to prior felony convictions.

Since the shooting incident, Taylor’s son has been in the custody of her grandfather, who has full custody according to court documents. The child had obtained the gun from his mother’s purse by climbing onto a dresser, and investigators found no trigger lock as initially claimed by Taylor. Additionally, Taylor had fired the gun in a public altercation with her son’s father in December before the school shooting.

This case underscores the complex issues surrounding drug use, gun ownership, and their legal implications, and it serves as a reminder of the need for responsible firearm handling and parenting.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about School shooting aftermath

What was the mother of the 6-year-old school shooter sentenced for?

The mother of the 6-year-old school shooter was sentenced to 21 months in prison for using marijuana while owning a firearm, which is illegal under U.S. law.

When did the school shooting in Virginia occur?

The school shooting in Virginia took place in January, involving a 6-year-old boy who shot his first-grade teacher with his mother’s handgun.

What were the consequences of the shooting incident?

The shooting incident sparked a nationwide conversation about gun violence and had a significant impact on the city of Newport News, where it occurred. The teacher who was shot, Abby Zwerner, suffered serious injuries, including physical, emotional, and psychological trauma.

What additional legal issues does the mother face?

In addition to her federal sentencing, the mother, Deja Taylor, faces a separate sentencing on the state level in December for felony child neglect. Abby Zwerner is also suing the school system for $40 million, alleging that administrators ignored multiple warnings about the boy having a gun.

How does this case relate to marijuana legalization?

The case brings up questions about the intersection of marijuana legalization and firearm ownership, as marijuana is legal in many states, including Virginia, while firearm ownership is common among Americans. Some U.S. courts have issued conflicting rulings on whether drug users should be banned from owning guns.

What arguments were made in Taylor’s defense?

Taylor’s defense argued that she needed counseling for schizoaffective disorder, a condition similar to schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, as well as treatment for marijuana addiction. They also suggested that the U.S. Supreme Court could potentially revisit the federal ban on drug users owning guns.

What was the mother’s initial explanation for the gun’s accessibility to her son?

Initially, Taylor claimed that she had secured her gun with a trigger lock. However, investigators did not find a trigger lock, and her son had accessed the firearm from her purse.

What impact did the shooting have on other students in the classroom?

The shooting had a lasting impact on the other students who were in Abby Zwerner’s classroom, causing them emotional scars that they will carry with them for the rest of their lives, according to U.S. District Judge Mark S. Davis.

More about School shooting aftermath

  • [Mother sentenced for marijuana use while owning a gun](insert link here)
  • [6-year-old school shooter incident in Virginia](insert link here)
  • [Abby Zwerner’s lawsuit against the school system](insert link here)
  • [Marijuana legalization in Virginia](insert link here)
  • [U.S. federal law on firearm possession](insert link here)
  • [Legal issues surrounding drug users and gun ownership](insert link here)
  • [Schizoaffective disorder and its treatment](insert link here)
  • [U.S. Supreme Court and the federal ban on drug users owning guns](insert link here)
  • [Impact of the school shooting on students](insert link here)

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CuriousMind45 November 16, 2023 - 12:15 am

Scary how easily the kid got to the gun, trigger lock missing is big issue.

FinanceNerd123 November 16, 2023 - 6:03 am

This case shws the clash of laws, gunz and weed, it’s a hot debate!

LegalEagle22 November 16, 2023 - 9:13 am

Suprem court cud change the rule, it’s complicated legl stuff.

SeriousReader007 November 16, 2023 - 9:18 am

Poor teacher, the physical and emotionl pain she’s been thru is so sad.

JournyMan24 November 16, 2023 - 8:51 pm

wow! the mom got jail time for weed? that’s messed up!


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