With several incidents involving guns in Baltimore County Public Schools this fall, the county has started a new program that should help gun owners secure their weapons.
“This has been a very difficult start of a school year,” said County Executive Kevin Kamenetz. “Now with yesterday’s incident, this is third weapon-related incident in the past eight weeks of school.”
Through a donation from the nonprofit Baltimore County Police Foundation, county residents who own guns can acquire up to three free gun locks by simply walking into any police precinct and showing that they live in the county.
Two Deer Park Middle School students, both 12, are charged with handgun violations after they traded a Bersa 380-caliber handgun for an Xbox and one of them brought ammunition to school Thursday.
In the previous incidents, one student shot a classmate during the first day of school at Perry Hall High School and another student displayed a handgun and threatened his teacher and students at Stemmers Run Middle School in Essex. A student at the Forsbush School at Glyndon in Reisterstown was charged with disturbing school activities and disorderly conduct after he said he had a gun, even though he didn’t.
“None of these incidents were caused by owners who were just being careless,” Kamenetz said. “Frankly, they were caused by owners who were being idiotic.”
He was joined by Baltimore County Police Chief Jim Johnson, Sheriff Jay Fisher and Councilman Ken Oliver at the Frankin Precinct in Reisterstown Friday afternoon to announce the new gun lock program.
“We have an obligation to be proactive to ensure the safety of all our citizens, particularly young individuals,” Johnson said.
The $4,700 donation from the police foundation paid for 2,000 locks, which are compatible with most handguns and long guns.
“Any police station in Baltimore County. Walk right in, show them you’re a Baltimore County resident, we’ll give you up to three of these locks,” Johnson said. “Please use them. We know they work and they’re very, very effective.”
Beyond the gun lock, Johnson suggest to secure the gun so children can’t remove them from hiding spots or take them out of the home. An inexpensive security system Johnson suggested included attaching the gun to an eye bolt using the gun lock and securing the bolt to a fixed structure.
Johnson hopes to keep the program going once the initial 2,000 locks are given out.
“As we begin to exhaust our supply, we’ll look for measures or means to continue this on,” he said. “This is good stuff. This is smart, proactive safety for all our families in our communities, so use these gun locks.”