Investigative Voice has a good article today detailing the background on a man that attacked a Johns Hopkins doctor before committing a murder suicide of his mother and himself last week. According to the article, police found that the man possessed a handgun and a Virginia Concealed Handgun Permit. Also summarized by I.V. is that the security staff at JHU Hospital says they won't, and more importantly can't, screen every visitor for deadly weapons.
Paul Warren Pardus was obviously highly motivated to do harm to people and he had the means with which to act. Thankfully, in his derangement, he only harmed three people in the doctor, himself and his mother. The doc looks like he will make a full recovery. His mother, though sad, was probably not living a quality life and Pardus disgustingly didn't seek help and chose to take his own life. Unfortunately, the reaction by many in Baltimore will be a choice to focus on the means with which this man carried out his acts and the outcry will be "people have guns and I'm scared."
Hopkins, a noted gun free zone, and it's head of security has just told the general public that they not only won't screen every visitor for weapons, but they can't. This means that motivated people know their victims are basically a "shooting" gallery and they are free to execute without consequence, their perverted acts against fellow human beings. I do not fault the hospital or the campus for instituting policies that create gun free zones, even if they are theoretically flawed, because it is their property. However, as we have seen time and time again, disarmament zones become victim zones.
It is extremely unfortunate that Mr. Pardus snapped like this, but I don't know how you can pre-screen anyone for premeditation towards physical violence. As someone who has gone through the process to obtain a VA permit to carry a concealed weapon, I can assure you that a through background check is conducted and it sounds like Mr. Pardus did not have any prior predisposition that would have denied him a permit. What bothers me is the abject failure of the security staff to enforce it's policy against people who exhibit a willful disregard for A) Human Life and B) are willing to violate the rules and laws that create a "self defense free" zone. From VA Tech, to Fort Hood, to Discovery Channel, to now John's Hopkins, no rule of law, nor policy of property, has disarmed any criminal. Period.
As discussed here on these bandwidths before, the concealed handgun permit holder's express line for the Texas Capital Building in Austin, TX, takes the opposite approach. Instead of placing restrictions upon the law abiding citizen from entering the building in response to a criminal shooting a year prior, they added a CHP "express lane" that completely bypasses metal detector security. Bags are still x-ray examined however and their permits are checked for validity. This also gives security staff a chance to observe the behaviors of the patrons for potentially violent persons who already have a valid permit. Additionally, on the off hand chance that such patron has obtained a permit to carry a deadly weapon for purposes that are not lawful, including assault or murder, they run a higher risk of being stopped by a peaceful person read to deal with such a threat, instead of continuing their rampage for hours while unarmed persons cower in broom closets.
Again, the hospital and campus have every right to institute policies no matter how ineffective they are at deterring or stopping crime since it is their property. However, it is time that we as a society realize the tools that cause destruction, can also provide protection, and in fact do in 40 other states. Responsible citizens being armed, levels the playing field against average street thugs, or even act as a deterrent to highly motivated individuals. True, Mr. Pardus may still have carried out his plan for attempted murder, murder and suicide, but perhaps he may have chosen to not carry out his actions inside a place filled with innocent people who could have shot back and stopped him.
By no means do I defend the actions of the assailant. They are horrific, perverted, and disgusting in the course of today's, and yesterday's, civil society. It is hard to find fault with Hopkins as they have instituted their policies for their perceived work place and learning environment benefits. It is unfortunate though that a noted gun free, and thus self-defense free, zone has been at an epicenter of violent crime for several years in Baltimore. From a man defending himself in the area with a sword, to a young researcher brutally murdered, to now a direct frontal assault upon the hospital and it's staff, perhaps it is time for a change of policy, culture, and state laws to prevent such atrocious acts in the future.