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A Lesson about Firearms from the Perry Hall Shooting

Following tragedies such as Monday’s Perry Hall High School shooting, we all search for lessons, for knowledge that can help us avoid something similar one day down the road.

by Police Chief James Johnson

Following tragedies such as Monday’s Perry Hall High School shooting, we all search for lessons, for knowledge that can help us avoid something similar one day down the road.

Over the past week, I’ve heard many people ask how the 15-year-old suspect, Robert Wayne Gladden Jr., managed to get the shotgun – kept in his father’s home in Hawthorne – used to critically injure classmate Daniel Borowy and victimize an entire community.

It’s a logical question – but there’s an equally logical question that has been overlooked: Why didn’t Gladden use the multiple firearms in his mother and stepfather’s home in the 8500 block of Bradshaw Road?

This shooting, as devastating as it was, could have been worse. Police have evidence that Gladden was well aware of the guns in his stepfather’s home but knew he could not access them because they were locked in a safe.

One person was shot on Monday. As I see it, there could have been more victims but for two factors: The quick and heroic actions of the guidance counselor who rushed to subdue Gladden, and Gladden’s inability to obtain his stepfather’s weapons.

The shotgun Gladden used in this crime holds two rounds of ammunition. It is capable of inflicting deadly damage. Still, reloading it takes time, and it is not as easy to use as more contemporary weapons.

Now consider some of the weapons and ammunition in the Bradshaw Road home as described in the District Court statement of charges already released to the public:

  • Zhongzhou 20-gauge shotgun
  • Boito 12-gauge shotgun
  • Sears Roebuck & Co Model 100 30-30 caliber rifle
  • Marlin Model 30-30 caliber rifle
  • Remington 22 caliber auto loader
  • Remington shotgun
  • Remington Sportsman 12 gauge shotgun
  • Ruger P95 9mm semiautomatic handgun
  • Loaded handgun magazine and assorted live ammunition

 

Some of these weapons are easier to use and have higher capacity magazines than the shotgun used in the shooting. The Ruger handgun is a semiautomatic weapon capable of rapidly firing multiple rounds. That weapon would have been particularly destructive, had Gladden been able to use it in the cafeteria.

Gladden did not take one or more of these weapons to Perry Hall High on the first day of school because he literally could not put his hands on them. Andrew Piper, Gladden’s stepfather, is legally prohibited from owning weapons. But at least he locked these guns in a safe.

Gladden took the Western Field double-barreled shotgun – unsecured in his father’s Hawthorne Road home -- and carried it to school because it was the only weapon he could get.

Maryland law requires gun owners to secure loaded firearms from children 15 and younger. The Perry Hall shooting shows that not securing unloaded weapons – while legal – is dangerous as well. As a police chief, I encourage gun owners to do more than the law requires by securing all weapons, loaded or unloaded. This is neither difficult nor expensive; there are many affordable gun-locking devices on the market.

Regardless of our opinions about guns and gun control, we ought to be able to agree on this: The consequences of not securing firearms in the home can be disastrous.

If you are a gun owner, I hope that is one of the lessons you take away from what happened at Perry Hall High this week.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Joe September 02, 2012 at 06:08 PM
Here is some perspective. A parent is the killer in most murders involving children under age 5, according to the Bureau of Justice. Of the 53 women currently on death row 11 killed their children, according to the Death Penalty Information Center. Mothers kill their children in this country much more often than most people would realize by simply reading the headlines; by conservative estimates it happens every few days, at least 100 times a year. Experts say more mothers than fathers kill their children under 5 years of age. Meyer and co-author Michelle Oberman interviewed women at the Ohio Reformatory for Women. They found that of 1,800 women at the prison, 80 were there for killing their children. Since 1950, child homicide rates have tripled, and homicide is within the top five causes of death for children ages 1 to 14 years old.13 In 2004, 311 of 578 (53.8%) children under the age of five were murdered by their parents in the US. Between the years of 1976 and 2004, 30 percent of all children murdered under the age of five were killed by their mothers and 31 percent were killed by their fathers.14 Male and female children appear to be killed in equal numbers, though one study did find that fathers are more likely to kill sons while mothers more frequently kill daughters.15 See Table 4 for an overview of characteristics associated with filicidal parents. Seems mothers are as dangerous to their own children as firearms may be.
Joe September 02, 2012 at 06:10 PM
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2922347/ http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/04/16/mother-kill-children-society-_n_850094.html http://thegazette.com/2010/06/18/mothers-who-kill-their-children-isn%E2%80%99t-so-uncommon/
Zoobie September 03, 2012 at 06:17 AM
Seems that Steve has a lock on handling Gun issues, and if he can't come up with a good answer, he just calls the adversary 'stupid' or dumb. Thanks, Steve, for a most informative posting.
Steve September 03, 2012 at 07:11 AM
Zoobie do you have a solution? Do you have a problem with the statistics?
Joe September 03, 2012 at 01:39 PM
Steve wants stats? How about these form the FBI UCR? Murder victims in 2010. under 17 years old: 990. Under 5 years old: 499. Under 1: 186. Killed by other than firearms: under 17: 596, 60%. under 5: 456, 91%. under 1: 181, 98% Children killed by the mother of father: 3.5% of ALL murders in 2010 Seems mothers and fathers are as dangerous to their children than unsecured firearms. http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/cjis/ucr/crime-in-the-u.s/2010/crime-in-the-u.s.-2010/offenses-known-to-law-enforcement/expanded/expandhomicidemain

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