A Jan. 9 candlelight vigil in Newport News for Abby Zwerner, the teacher shot by a 6-year-old student at Richneck Elementary. (Billy Schuerman/The Virginian-Pilot via AP)

Regarding the Jan. 10 front-page article “Gun shot by 6-year-old was mom’s, Va. police say”:

After a harrowing year of gun violence in Virginia, 2023 started tragically with the shooting of a teacher by a 6-year-old child in Newport News. Because this child was able to obtain a gun legally purchased by his mother, according to police, a young woman was critically wounded, and dozens of children and an entire community are traumatized. Too often, children are able to access firearms because they aren’t stored properly.

Though Virginia has recently taken important steps to strengthen its gun laws, the state can and must do more to prevent this from happening.

Christine Emba

counterpointWhy do Americans want guns? It comes down to one word.

Virginia’s legislature should strengthen its child access prevention statute, including increasing penalties for negligent gun owners and promoting secure firearm storage statewide. Secure storage can decrease unauthorized access to minors, prevent intentional and unintentional shootings, reduce firearm suicides in children and teens, and decrease gun theft.

As a responsible gun owner, I understand that common-sense gun safety laws and responsible storage practices will keep our communities safe. I and other like-minded gun owners hope our leaders in Virginia can join us to prevent future tragic incidents such as this one.

Lisa Harter, Alexandria

The writer is a senior ambassador in Virginia for Giffords Gun Owners for Safety.