In remembrance of the late Plymouth Township Police Officer Brad Fox, and in the presence of his family, lawmakers and law enforcement officers, Gov. Tom Corbett ceremonially signed Rep. Marcy Toepel’s (R-Mongomery) legislation, now Act 199 of 2012, which restores a crucial law enforcement tool to remove illegal guns and prosecute straw purchasers.
“The journey of this law was certainly a group effort. However, it wasn’t until Brad Fox’s high-profile murder case right here in our county that the need for this law took on a more significant and clear meaning in Pennsylvania,” said Toepel. “Although his death expedited my legislation’s approval and brought to the forefront the importance of this law, we must also honor and never forget all victims who have died as a result gun violence resulting from straw purchases.”
Because straw purchasers significantly contribute to gun violence in communities across the Commonwealth, Act 199 restored a crucial law enforcement tool to remove illegal guns and prosecute straw purchasers.
While obtaining or receiving a firearm through a straw purchase has long been illegal in Pennsylvania, this law closed a loophole that prevented the imposition of an enhanced penalty for second and subsequent offenses.
More specifically, Act 199 restored a five-year minimum sentence for those convicted of making repeat straw purchases of firearms, a measure that Toepel believes makes Pennsylvania’s streets safer for everyone.
Act 199 was dubbed the “Brad Fox Law” because multiple straw purchases are the reason why a criminal possessed several guns, including the one that fatally shot Fox.
“Officer Fox died in the line of duty last year at the hands of a felon who should never have had a gun and, less directly, by the hand the man who later admitting buying the gun and passing it along,” said Corbett, who signed Act 199 into law on Oct. 25, 2012.
“Straw purchasers are as deadly a threat to our citizens and our first responders as the felons to whom they pass along the weapon. State and federal laws are very plain: convicted felons are forbidden from owning firearms. And those who knowingly provide firearms to felons are themselves criminals and worthy of being locked up,” Corbett said.
This law has garnered the support of the Montgomery County District Attorney Risa Vetri Ferman, as well as the Pennsylvania District Attorneys Association and the Montgomery County Police Chiefs’ Association.