by Police Chief James Johnson
Ever since two widely publicized gun incidents in our schools – one on August 27 and another on September 11 – I have stressed how critically important it is for gun owners to lock up their weapons.
Both the Perry Hall High and Stemmers Middle incidents occurred because kids were able to obtain a gun. In the Stemmers Run case, the grandfather of the boy who brought the handgun to school was charged for violating Maryland law, which requires that gun owners secure loaded firearms from children 15 and younger. The law did not apply in the Perry Hall shooting, because the suspect’s father’s shotgun was kept unloaded.
Baltimore County Police will continue to hold violators of the “access to minors” law accountable, and we will continue to encourage gun owners to secure unloaded weapons, even though the law doesn’t require it.
In addition, County Executive Kamenetz and I today announced a new gun lock distribution program that, we believe, makes it as easy as possible for gun owners to secure their firearms.
The program is simple: We are making a basic but law enforcement-tested gun lock available – free of charge – at all 10 police precincts and the Public Safety Building in Towson. Gun owners who show proof that they are Baltimore County residents may receive up to three locks.
In a perfect world, all gun owners would store their weapons in a strong, heavy safe. In the real world, that option is neither practical nor affordable for many people.
The cable locks we are providing are both practical and affordable. The Baltimore County Police Foundation – a wonderful non-profit partner dedicated to supporting quality police service – donated $4,700 to help us purchase 2,000 locks.
The locks – available immediately -- are easy to use and compatible with most handguns and long guns. When you visit a precinct or the Public Safety Building to obtain a lock, our officers will demonstrate how to use it and will include instructions with the locking device.
With this new program, there simply is no excuse for leaving firearms unsecured.
Those of us who are legally qualified and choose to own guns have a right to do so. We also have a responsibility to keep these weapons from being misused by children, criminals and others with no business handling guns.