Family plans to file lawsuit in son's accidental shooting

Manufacturer, dealer likely to be named in boy's 1998 death

July 24, 2001|By Sheridan Lyons | Sheridan Lyons,SUN STAFF

Assisted by attorneys from the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence, a Manchester couple plans to file a lawsuit today in Baltimore against a gun manufacturer, a gun dealer and other parties in connection with the fatal shooting of their 13-year-old son in August 1998.

"It's been three years now, and we haven't pursued the legal avenue yet," said John Price, the father of John Joseph Price. "There were so many other things we wanted to do."

The Prices and their attorneys plan a news conference at 12:30 p.m. on the steps of the east courthouse on Calvert Street after their civil lawsuit is filed in Baltimore Circuit Court, said Nancy Hwa, a spokeswoman for the Brady Center in Washington.

Hwa said the lawsuit would name the gun manufacturer, the dealer and others as defendants, but she declined to divulge other details.

Of the lawsuit, John Price said: "We always kind of knew that was something we were going to have to do. My son died. He did nothing wrong, and somebody's responsible for my son's death, and the court's going to have to decide who."

It will be three years next month since John Joseph Price was killed by a 9-year-old who found a loaded handgun at a White Marsh townhouse. His mother, Carole Price, said her son intended to visit the younger boy briefly before returning home for dinner. Two younger children were also at the home.

No criminal charges were filed against the family of the boy who pulled the trigger or the gun owner. The townhouse was occupied by a man who had rented a room to the father of one of the children involved in the shooting.

"Not all the money in the world would compensate for our son. It's not about greed; it's about responsibility," John Price said. "Our goal is to try to recognize and realize that you can do a better job protecting our children.

"My son, when he died, the boy kept saying he didn't know the gun was loaded, but you can put [a device] on to show that there is a bullet in the chamber," he said. "They have measures ... but they have not made guns any safer."

John Joseph, the Prices' eldest child, would have been 16 next month. The couple has two other children, Michael, 11, and Carly, 10.

The family moved to Manchester in Carroll County after the shooting and have immersed themselves in various gun-safety advocacy activities.

Carole Price has been active in the Million Moms March and the national ASK campaign to have parents find out whether there are guns in houses where their children play. She also spoke of her son last year at the Democratic National Convention.

John Price, a BGE lineman, helped to write a gun-safety program for the Carroll County school system that is taught at all levels, from elementary to high school, and has drawn attention from school systems around the country.

In May, Gov. Parris N. Glendening vetoed a bill inspired by the Carroll program that would have required all Maryland schools to develop gun-safety classes. He said he feared as written it could lead to students handling guns. A spokeswoman for state Sen. Barbara A. Hoffman, a Baltimore Democrat, said last week that she plans to introduce a revised bill at the next session of the General Assembly.

The Brady Center changed its name last month from the Center to Prevent Handgun Violence and Handgun Control. It is named after gun-safety advocates James Brady, the former White House press secretary wounded in a 1981 assassination attempt on President Ronald Reagan, and Brady's wife, Sarah.

"We changed our name because people know the Brady name," Hwa said.

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