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October 20, 2010

Clergy target Lansdowne gun shop

The clergymen stood inside the Lansdowne gun shop on Hollins Ferry Road, over a glass counter containing what they called the “instruments of death” responsible for turning the streets of Baltimore into a killing field.

“The city is devastated by violence — gun violence,” pressed Rev. Eugene Sutton, a bishop with the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland, whose group protested this store on Wednesday. “We’re trying to get the illegal guns off the street. Too many people are dying. It’s destroying Baltimore.”

Bill and Clyde Blamberg, owners of Clyde’s Sport Shop for more than a half century, listened politely but firmly told the group to seek help elsewhere — Annapolis in particular. They refused to sign a code of conduct and agree to voluntary inspections and other restrictions beyond that of what state and federal law requires.

“They’re do-gooders who are trying their best to make a difference,” said 69-year-old Clyde Blamberg, out of earshot of the protest group called Heeding God's Call. Added his brother Bill, “We’re close to Baltimore City and we do make a lot of sales, all of them legal. What this group is doing isn’t going to do a lot good.”

(In the picture: Bill Blamberg, left, looks down his store's wall of guns as his brother Clyde Blamberg (second from left) shakes hands with the Rev. Eugene Taylor Sutton, the bishop of Maryland for the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland. By The Sun's Jed Kirschbaum)

For more:

The clergy, about 14 of them, are part of a national group called “Heeding God’s Call, a Movement to End Gun Violence.” Catholic priests, ministers along with Jewish and Muslim leaders came to Clyde’s because it has been listed by authorities as being a top gun distributor to city criminals.

The federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms said in 2007 that they traced 64 firearms seized by Baltimore police at crime scenes to Clyde’s, behind only Valley Guns in Parkville that was shuttered but authorities several years ago because of inventory problems. Two other gun shops that topped that list, Northeast Gun & Pawn and Baltimore Gunsmith in the city, also have been closed for violations.

The federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms said in 2007 that they traced 64 firearms seized by Baltimore police at crime scenes to Clyde’s, behind only Valley Guns in Parkville that was shuttered but authorities several years ago because of inventory problems. Two other gun shops that topped that list, Northeast Gun & Pawn and Baltimore Gunsmith in the city, also have been closed for violations.

Those statistics come from an Abell Foundation Report on the effectiveness of gun laws in Maryland, and their researches obtained the numbers from sources in law enforcement. The ATF has been prohibited by federal law from publicizing specific trace analysis data since 2004.
The Abell report also reached similar conclusions as the ATF did in 1999 — that at least 40 percent of guns traced to crimes in major cities had been legally purchased from a gun shop in the previous three years.

Posted by Peter Hermann at 11:51 AM | | Comments (9)
Categories: Baltimore County, Breaking news, Confronting crime


Some questions: What percentage of the crimes committed with guns is the 64? Were the guns stolen from legitimate owners? The store is correct. I wouldn't purchase from it If the store is allowing inspections by private people & looking at my records. If I bought a firearm there, would these people be at my house protesting? If the store is in compliance with the law, then there are no grounds to protest. They sell to people that have a right (2nd amendment) to bear arms.

While I agree that there is a connection of the number of homicides caused by guns, I disagree that guns are the “instruments of death”. People are the instruments of death, people are the ones that leave a gun loaded for a kid to play with, people are the ones that aim a gun at another human being and pull the trigger. People are the ones that plan drive by shootings.

A gun shop is only following the laws set forth by the state. People, however, decide to not follow those laws and kill fellow men with the gun they purchased.

I believe the reverend is talking to the wrong people. He needs to be on the street asking people to stop killing other people. Asking the drug dealers to close up their shops so addicts are not robbing and shooting others for money. Asking people 'What Would Jesus Do'.

The answer is not taking away gun rights or being upset over the fact that his flock is buying guns from a gun shop legally and then using those guns to kill a person.

I believe that if concealed carry was allowed by all honest citizen in the state of Maryland, and that Maryland became a 'shall issue' state crime would go down.

Maybe Baltimore should do what a small town in Georgia has done. Kennesaw Georgia requires that ever resident own a firearm with ammunition. It may be a radical idea but crime dropped 89%.

Last I checked, over 170+ mothers and fathers have seen their child killed this year. That is so very sad.

Yes, and icecream from the board walk causes drownings at the beach.

Seems to me the good bishop has watched too many racist Marvin "Doc" Cheatham tapes, by going after legal businesses operating within the limits of the law. The gun shops who sell guns have a pile of regulations and laws to abide by, overseen by the Maryland State Police. A straw purchase of a gun sale will net you 10 years in jail. The gun store owners are legitimate businessmen, making an honest living. Maybe the good bishop could go into his own backyard and rout out the burglars, thieves and thugs who steal those guns and campaign against them for a more effective yet less publicity enhancing, result. To rant against legal gun store owners because of Baltimore's murder rate is like protesting against zippo lighter distributors to curb arsonists. Just preach your version of the gospel bishop, and see if there is anything in that book about getting a grip.

While the intentions of this group may be good they have no right to interrupt a place of business. What they are essentially asking is that the gun shop close based on the people that get a hold of guns from the people that have purchased them legally. The shop is not responsible for the gun once the purchase is made. So if the guns are stolen and used in a crime the purchaser hasn't done his/her part in protecting the gun that they purchased. If the gun is stolen and has a trigger lock in place it would render the gun inoperable. If the gun is just handed over to someone else then the gun owner may be somewhat responsible if the gun is used in a crime. It would seem logical to report the gun stolen but the owner still didn't take the proper steps in storing the gun or having a trigger lock in place. These types of controls would be up to the state in what is expected by the purchaser in terms of storage and locks not the gun shop owner. A possible remedy would be to mandate the sale of trigger locks with the purchase. I'm sure this group wouldn't like it if a bunch of gun owners showed up during their sermons and starting protecting and walking into the church and started asking questions in the middle of a sermon.

The Maryland Licensed Firearms Dealers Association, Inc. has always taken the position that criminals should be denied possession of any type of firearm. However, your article about the church group "protest sales from gun shop" doesn't tell the whole story.

Clyde's Sport Shop has been in business for over 53 years. They abide by all of the federal, state and local laws and regulations. Licensed by both the BATF and the Maryland State Police, Clyde's is regularly inspected by both organizations to insure complaince. We take offense at the phrase "a top gun distributor to city crminals". You have offered no proof to back up that accusation.

While this chruch group may have the laudable goal of reducing violent crime, they are missing the mark. A majority of firearms used in crimes are stolen from the homes of law-abiding citizens. Dealers cannot be held responsible for the criminal misuse of firearms after their customers are checked by both BATF and MSP, waited seven days to take possession of their handgun and several years later the firearm is stolen from their home.

Perhaps the goal of this group could be be better served by their demanding stricters penalties for the criminal misuse of any firearm while committing a crime---with no parole.

The Sun is always full of stories about violent felons, with several convictions, granted probation time and time again. Perhaps thechurchmen should talk to the Baltimore City judges.

Steve Scheider, President
Maryland Licensed Firearms Dealers Association, Inc.
Silver Spring, MD

These people are misguided and misinformed. Unintentional deaths for 0-14 year olds from a firearm is about 80 a year. It is 2,400 a year from automobiles (including bicycles), 140 from falling, 100 from poisoning, 660 from fires/burns, 120 from suffucoation by ingested objects, 20 from poisoning form vapors/gases, and 550 accidental drownings in residental swimming pools.

So, why aren't these people out there protesting against swimming pool manufacturers? Why aren't they out their trying to make automobiles illegal?

This is just abusrd. These people think they can keep everyone safe from themselves. People have accidents. People make mistakes. Guns don't kill people... people kill people.

This group is doing a lot of good- when others join- such as reporters, media, politicians- to tighten restrictions on guns until they are used for
1 plinking and target practice (we men like to blow things up) (something sexual there?)
2 over throwing right wing dictators
3 thinning a herd that really needs thinning (wld b better done w knives- more noble)
then we'll b getting somewhere.

The gun shop people, the conceal carry people, many nra folks- they're on the side of the bad guys.

I don't know why gun owners come off as nut balls- they could make responsible arguments- but they don't. Knives are plainly better....clubs?

How bout this- when people stop making guns, there will be less gun deaths!

Correct me if I am wrong but hasn't the number one reason and cause of mass murder throughout all of history been....wait for it...wait for it.... RELIGION?

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About Peter Hermann
Peter Hermann started covering news for The Baltimore Sun in 1990, first in Anne Arundel County and, starting in 1994, reporting on the Baltimore Police Department. In 2001, he was assigned to Jerusalem as the Baltimore Sun's Middle East correspondent. He returned in 2005 as an assistant city editor overseeing crime coverage. In 2008, Peter returned to the beat as a daily reporter and blogger. A recent BBC report featured him in a segment on the harsh realities of covering crime in Baltimore.

Coverage will focus on crime trends, problems in neighborhoods in the city and elsewhere, profiles of victims and police officers and try to offer readers a fresh perspective on one of the most vexing issues facing Baltimore and its future.

Contributing to this blog is Justin Fenton, who joined The Sun in 2005 and has covered the Baltimore City Police Department and the criminal justice system since 2008. His work includes an investigation into Cal Ripken Jr.’s minor league baseball stadium deal with his hometown of Aberdeen, a three-part series chronicling a ruthless con woman, coverage of the killing of five Amish children at a schoolhouse in Nickel Mines, Pa., and a job swap with a British crime reporter to explore differences in crime-fighting. A special report looking into how city police handle rape cases led to sweeping reforms that changed the way sexual assaults are investigated in Baltimore. He was recognized as the best reporter in Baltimore by the City Paper in 2010 and by Baltimore Magazine in 2011.

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