But long guns are seized by police at a rate disproportionate with their prevalence in crime, in part because they are conspicuous by nature. About 40 percent of the 7,700 firearms that police seized in Maryland last year were rifles or shotguns, according to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

While handguns are overwhelmingly the most common weapon for criminals, long guns have been used in many high-profile shootings nationally and in Maryland over the years. That includes the Colorado massacres at Columbine High School in 1999 and in a crowded Aurora movie theater in July.

Shotguns were among the firearms used in mass shootings at the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C., in 2009 and at an Amish schoolhouse in Nickel Mines, Pa., in 2006. They were also used in a shooting just off the campus of Frostburg State University that killed one student in 2010, and in the death of an Elkton woman as part of what her husband called a planned murder-suicide in 2006.

"There has not been a great effort to say, 'We have too many people walking around the streets carrying shotguns and other forms of firearms,'" said Sen. Brian Frosh, a Montgomery County Democrat who chairs a committee that oversees gun policies. "I think it's a very serious public health problem."

Frosh said he sees the laws shifting toward bolstering gun rights, rather than establishing new restrictions. That includes a March federal court ruling that struck down a requirement that Marylanders have "a good and substantial reason" to carry a concealed handgun, he said. The state attorney general's office has asked a higher court to block the ruling.

"Do I see a movement to restrict the right of people to carry shotguns in public? Nope," Frosh said.

Gun rights advocates decried the shooting but said they hoped it wouldn't lead to a heavier burden on law-abiding firearm owners.

Some on the message boards of Maryland Shooters, a popular website for gun enthusiasts, used the incident as a reminder of the importance of keeping guns locked and away from children 15 and under, as required by state law. Baltimore County Police Chief James Johnson highlighted that restriction in a message to the public on Friday.

No charges have been filed against Gladden's father, Robert Wayne Gladden Sr.

But there was also debate among gun owners over whether the focus on security missed a deeper issue.

"So if this kid had walked in with a [knife] and stabbed someone would we secure our kitchen knives?," one person wrote on the message board Tuesday. "A lot of people grow up around 'un secured' firearms and do not go out killing people."

sdance@baltsun.com

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Gun regulations in Maryland



Handguns and assault weapons:

Require a seven-day background check before purchase

Must be registered with state police

Require a permit when carried in public

Shotguns, rifles and other long guns:

Require an instant background check through federal system before purchase

Do not have to be registered

Can be carried in public without a permit