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Mayors from Southeast Pennsylvania participated today in the ceremonial signing by Governor Tom Corbett of the Brad Fox Law (H.B. 898) cracking down on straw gun purchasers. The mayors, hailing from Montgomery, Delaware and Chester Counties, are members of Mayors Against Illegal Guns, a nationwide, bipartisan coalition that supported the bill. The Brad Fox Law’s author, Representative Marcy Toepel, R-Montgomery, named it in honor of Officer Bradley Fox, who was shot and killed in the line of duty by a felon with an illegal gun.
“I was shocked and saddened by the death of Officer Fox, and my heart immediately went out to his widow and daughter,” Mayor Bonnie Heath said. “The murderer was a felon who said he was willing to kill a police officer rather than go to jail. He could never have passed a background check, yet he was able to get a gun because he found a straw purchaser to buy it for him. Thanks to Rep. Toepel’s law, straw purchasers will have to think twice before they help killers get access to guns.”
On September 13, 2012 Plymouth Township Police Officer Bradley Fox was shot and killed in the line of duty by Andrew Charles Thomas of Montgomery County near the Schuylkill River Trail. Thomas then turned the gun on himself. Law enforcement traced the gun used to kill Officer Fox to the gun’s purchaser, Michael Joseph Henry of Philadelphia, who confessed to straw purchasing nine guns for Mr. Thomas, including the gun used to kill Officer Fox.In 2011, Rep. Toepel’s legislation passed overwhelmingly in the House, but stalled in the Senate. The arrest of Mr. Henry prompted senators to revive the bill and it passed unanimously in October 2012. The Brad Fox Law institutes a minimum sentence of five years in prison for a second straw purchasing offense. Under the law, individuals with clean records who are convicted of straw purchasing multiple guns are subject to the enhanced penalty.“The Brad Fox Law will be an important tool for law enforcement to punish those who traffic illegal guns,” said Mayor Gerard McGlone, a Republican from Malvern. “Common sense laws like this do nothing to infringe on anyone’s Second Amendment rights. If we’re serious about controlling crime, we have to enforce the laws we have. Felons are prohibited from possessing guns, and those who supply guns to felons have to face justice too.”“Horrific incidents like Sandy Hook, Aurora and Virginia Tech should be a wake up call to everyday Americans who take comfort thinking their lives will not be touched by gun violence,” said Chester Mayor John Linder. “The fact is, 33 human beings are murdered with guns every day in America, and we also sustain these tragedies in my city of Chester. It’s time to get serious about reducing gun violence in this country, and the Brad Fox Law is a positive step.”“I commend Rep. Toepel for introducing this bill, and I thank the Senate for standing up to the gun lobby and passing it unanimously without amendments,” Telford Mayor Jay Stover said. “Pennsylvanians are tired of inaction on this issue and we want our leaders to stand up for us and pass sensible gun laws. The way to reduce gun violence is not an armed nation. We have to keep guns out of the hands people who shouldn’t have them.”“This is the first step toward sensible regulation of gun trafficking in Pennsylvania,” said Ambler Mayor Bud Wahl. “We’ve enhanced the punishment for straw purchasers; now it’s time to require gun owners to report lost or stolen handguns as soon as they realize they’re missing. Any responsible gun owner already reports a stolen gun, and there are too many crimes committed with stolen and straw purchased guns.”Since its inception in April 2006, Mayors Against Illegal Guns has grown from 15 mayors to more than 800 mayors from across the country, including more than 200 in Pennsylvania. It has more than 950,000 grassroots supporters, making it the largest gun violence prevention advocacy organization in the country. The bipartisan coalition, co-chaired by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Boston Mayor Thomas Menino, has united the nation’s mayors around these common goals: protecting their communities by holding gun offenders and irresponsible gun dealers accountable; demanding access to trace data that is critical to law enforcement efforts to combat illegal gun trafficking; and working with legislators to fix gaps, weaknesses and loopholes in the law that make it far too easy for criminals and other prohibited purchasers to get guns.