Written by Released by Rep. Marcy Toepel's Office
Legislation that restores a significant law enforcement tool to remove illegal guns and prosecute straw purchasers is now on its way to the governor’s desk, as the Senate today unanimously passed House Bill 898, authored by Rep. Marcy Toepel (R-Montgomery).
“While I introduced this bill about and a year a half ago, it has taken on new significance due to the recent tragic events in Montgomery County. Straw purchasers significantly contribute to gun violence in Pennsylvania’s towns and cities,” said Toepel. “I am pleased my colleagues agree that this legislation is needed to better protect residents of our communities across the state.”
Although obtaining or receiving a firearm through a straw purchase is illegal in Pennsylvania, House Bill 898, known as the Brad Fox Law, would close a loophole in the current law that prevented the imposition of an enhanced penalty for second and subsequent offenses.
Multiple straw purchases are the reason why a criminal possessed multiple guns, including the one that fatally shot Plymouth Township Police Officer Brad Fox last month.
A “straw purchase” occurs when the actual buyer of a firearm uses another person, a “straw purchaser,” to execute the paperwork necessary to purchase a firearm from a federally licensed firearms dealer.
Specifically, House Bill 898 would restore a five-year minimum sentence for those convicted of making repeat straw purchases of firearms, a measure that would make Pennsylvania’s streets safer for everyone.
“This legislation will help us target those that literally put illegal guns into the hands of killers and other criminals,” said Shawn Wagner, president of Pennsylvania District Attorneys Association and district attorney of Adams County.
House Bill 898 has garnered the support of Montgomery County District Attorney Risa Vetri Ferman, as well as the Pennsylvania District Attorneys Association and the Montgomery County Police Chiefs’ Association.
“The need for this bill was most recently and tragically demonstrated by the death of Plymouth Township Police Officer Brad Fox,” said Montgomery County District Attorney Risa Vetri-Ferman. “He was killed while investigating a car crash on September 13, 2012, with a gun that was obtained from a repeat straw purchaser. His loss is felt everyday in Montgomery County, but the passage of this law is a great tribute to his memory.”
For more legislative information, visit Toepel’s website at www.RepToepel.com or her legislative Facebook page at www.Facebook.com/RepToepel.