By Lindsey Spec
In May 2014, the Fresno Bee covered a story of a 13-year-old student found with a .357 magnum and bullets at Baird Middle School. The gun was owned by the father, a Fresno County Sheriff’s Department employee. The son was expelled and charged with felonies.
The father’s gun and bullets were kept in his SUV; he had no concealed weapons permit. This is a violation of several California gun laws regarding the legal possession, storage and transport of weapons. It was not in a locked box or a vehicle trunk.
The gun and bullets’ whereabouts were known to this ex-serviceman’s two minor children and fully accessible to anyone accessing the vehicle. After the horrors of Sandy Hook and Columbine, laws have been enacted that are specifically intended to safeguard schoolchildren by punishing gun owners whose irresponsibility allows guns to find their way to our schools.
In California, PC 25200 was enacted. The actions of the father (Chad Horneck) met every element of such violations. He stored a gun in a manner in which it was reasonable to assume a minor could (and did) gain access, and the gun and bullets did end up on the campus, among the Baird Elementary population.
The son (previously an honor roll athlete with good teacher rapport and no disciplinary history) faces substantial limitations to what seemed an exceptionally bright future. The Fresno Police Department (FPD) and the District Attorney (DA) issued the father no citations and refused to apply the applicable “prevent guns on campus” laws to him.
I imagine the Baird parents, any Fresno Unified School District (FUSD) parents, expect the local authorities are vigorously protecting the safety of our schools. I would think they would be appalled and concerned about the authorities’ failure to act to punish and prevent adults who put our kids at risk through their irresponsibility.
The father is also willfully disrespectful of multiple current court orders re custody. Although contempt charges were filed more than seven months ago, the trial did not occur until Aug. 31. The mother is unwilling to go to the press or public for fear she would incur the court’s displeasure. Her focus is her own children’s well-being.
Yet the presence of that weapon on the Baird campus, and the response by the FPD and the DA, could disastrously affect the welfare of all FUSD students. Doesn’t the public have a right to know the facts? The facts of this case are discoverable, and documents are now, or can be, available to you. As we face a new school year, we should be concerned with protecting all Fresno schoolchildren.
I don’t want to hurt this mother’s case, but shouldn’t there be a public discussion? Shouldn’t someone other than this mother be expected to follow up and report what has occurred?
Lindsey Spec belongs to Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense, Coalition to Stop Gun Violence and Everytown for Gun Safety and believes in this movement to curb senseless and preventable violence. Contact her at email@example.com.