RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — As news of the latest school shooting in Texas continues to rock the country, parents in Central Virginia are reacting to the gut-wrenching reality.

“It’s just like shock and anger. Disgust and frustration,” said Theresa Kennedy, a parent in Central Virginia. “This is a collective tragedy.”

Kennedy is the mom of two young boys, 8 and 11 years old. She said Tuesday night she was tasked with explaining to them that 19 children and two teachers were gunned down and killed at Robb Elementary school in Uvalde, Texas.

The 18-year-old gunman barricaded himself inside a single classroom and “began shooting anyone that was in his way,” according to authorities.

“They were in shock. They couldn’t really comprehend what was happening,” she said. “They didn’t want to recognize that they live in a world that is this cruel to them… and a world that prioritizes the right to own a firearm over the lives of its children.” 

Kennedy said Tuesday’s tragedy is a heartbreaking situation that has become all too familiar. Other Central Virginia parents took to social media to share their concerns.

One mother wrote, “Do you know how hard it was telling them what happened? The questions they asked wasn’t a conversation two 9-year-olds and a 6-year-old should be having. My boys are worried they will be shot. Kids are terrified, not just mine.”

Someone else questioned, “How can we help protect our students and teachers and staff members, while also helping the individuals who could potentially commit these atrocities?”

Kennedy said it’s troubling that her sons have become accustomed to preparing for this type of situation.

“It is so normal for them that active shooter drills exist. It’s normal that they know what lockdowns are,” she said. “They think that’s a part of being in elementary school and it’s not.” 

Following Tuesday’s tragedy, Richmond Superintendent Jason Kamras sent out an alert to families notifying them of an increased police presence and enhanced security checks for students. He added that the division had also updated its school-specific active shooter response plans.

“The last thing we want is to be policing children, but that is the only option we’re left with and that is just devastating,” Kennedy said.

This shooting marked the 11th school shooting since 2007 that killed more than four people. Kennedy is now urging lawmakers to make policy changes to prevent more families from having to bury their loved ones due to senseless gun violence.

“It is completely preventable,” she said. “This is a real opportunity for us to make real change and limit gun access, it is state-level law that can make a change.”