Guns in our schools not a new issue

Expert: Solution must begin in community

On the very first day of school, during the very first lunch period, a national headline quickly became hyper-local.

Perry Hall High School and the community it is a part of quickly became chaotic as news spread that 15-year-old Robert Wayne Gladden brought a shot gun to school and fired it in the cafeteria wounding 17-year-old special needs student Daniel Borowy

Borowy's critical wounds were as physical as maybe the community's were emotional.

"We thought we'd be safe at school.  It's a regular thing.  Get on the bus, go to school, come home no big deal and then now, something like this happens and it alarms all of us," said a student who sat one table over from the shooter.


IN-DEPTH | The Shooting at Perry Hall High School


While shootings in schools are rare, the opportunity for it is not.

ABC2 News compiled a decade's worth of data from the state of Maryland on out-of-school suspensions.

From the 2001/2002 school year through 2010/2011, 117 students were suspended for firearms throughout our area , which includes all seven school districts -- an average of about 15 per year.

"We would like to see zeros for every single year in all of our jurisdictions, but we don't," said Dr. Daniel Webster.

Webster is the director of the Center for Gun Policy and Research at Johns Hopkins' Bloomberg School of Public Health.

Firearm suspensions happen more often than many parents know.

Webster says to get that number to zero is not going to happen overnight.

He recently released a study called The Case for Gun Policy Reforms in America which, in part, calls for gun restriction to high risk groups, specifically those under 21-years-old.

"In my opinion I think the big focus should be on the community, what can we do to make guns less available to underage youth and to criminals," said Webster.

It is not all bad news, in the last two school years of our data there is a sharp decline in firearm suspensions in our area.

Dr. Webster says it  loosely follows a recent national trend. 

But to keep that trend moving in a downward direction and help avoid the kinds of incidents that happened at Perry Hall, Webster says it has to start in the community .

The Baltimore County Police Department responded to the Perry Hall shooting in part with a new gun lock giveaway it announced last month.

If you are a county resident, simply show up at a precinct and get up to three for free.

The county says about 625 have been given out so far, locking up guns so children can't have the kind of access Robert Wayne Gladden had back on August 27th.

It is the kind of proactive action Webster believes is the right kind of response.

County police also implemented the use of metal detecting wands to be used at a school resource officer's discretion. We asked to see how that works in a post Perry Hall shooting world, but our request was denied.

Both are measures now in place to help prevent another Perry Hall type shooting, school violence that not only caused physical wounds, but deep community ones as well.

"It affects us every day, our fear, but particularly if you had an incident like that so close to you in a place where you thought you were always safe. It's incredibly traumatic, and I think some of those kids are probably going to need support and help for a while," Webster said.

Safety -- it's being redefined by two shots in a cafeteria on the very first day of school.

Print this article Back to Top

Comments

More Investigations

City leaders: Baltimore needs more officers to work security at events without breaking the bank City leaders: Baltimore needs more officers to work security at events without breaking the bank

For every Ravens touchdown and every Orioles inning, there are men and women in blue there to pay witness.  They're not watching the game.  They're watching you.  And no matter who wins, we found the money spent comes at a loss to the department.

Baltimore fighting back against illegal dumpers; harsher penalties to come this fall Baltimore fighting back against illegal dumpers; harsher penalties to come this fall

It's an eyesore, it's unsanitary, and it's a huge problem in Baltimore. The city spends about $17 million cleaning up illegal dumps each year, but the current penalties aren't deterring some people.

Baltimore officer gets 45 days in jail for assault of suspect in break-in of girlfriend Baltimore officer gets 45 days in jail for assault of suspect in break-in of girlfriend's home

A Baltimore City police officer was sentenced to 45 days in jail followed by 18 months of probation and 200 hours of community service for assaulting a man in police custody and then hindering the internal affairs investigation into the incident.

Daycare provider to get new trial after conviction in death of Eastern Shore baby Daycare provider to get new trial after conviction in death of Eastern Shore baby

An Eastern Shore woman convicted in the death of a child in her care will get a new trial thanks to a judge's decision.

Feds say search warrants turned up new evidence in Shawna Gunter case Feds say search warrants turned up new evidence in Shawna Gunter case

In a detention hearing in federal court, prosecutors detailed new evidence in their case against a Severna Park woman accused of posing as a physician's assistant.

Feds: Shawna Gunter, who posed as a physician Feds: Shawna Gunter, who posed as a physician's assistant and treated about 200 patients, indicted

An Anne Arundel County woman is indicted by the feds for posing as a physician's assistant and treating patients.

Many pot tests, but no certainty how much is too much Many pot tests, but no certainty how much is too much

Zero tolerance for pot has been the norm for decades for workplace drug testing, and, in most states, for policing drugged driving. But with millions of Americans now legally able to use pot for either medical purposes or outright, there’s growing demand to know how much is too much to safely drive or perform on the job.

 

 

 

Law enforcement agencies working to find balance in Law enforcement agencies working to find balance in 'thin blue line'

Across the region, police agencies say they don’t tolerate harassment among officers, though there’s no cut and dried solution.

GAO report, victim advocates raise concerns over underreporting of cruise ship crime GAO report, victim advocates raise concerns over underreporting of cruise ship crime

When it comes to cruising, people put a lot of time and energy into researching the prices, amenities and destinations. But according to a recent government report, consumers may not be as informed as they should be about the safety and security on these vessels.

Federal employees are flying high on taxpayers’ dime Federal employees are flying high on taxpayers’ dime

Would you spend more than $16,000 to upgrade to a business class flight? Our investigation found one agency let a top executive use your tax dollars to do just that.