The man who took the life of young Plymouth Township Police Officer Brad Fox in September 2012 never should have had a gun.
With a conviction for forgery on his rap sheet, Andrew Thomas needed help to acquire the gun he used to fatally shoot Fox after a police pursuit following a hit-and-run crash. Thomas was on probation, something that would have come up during any background check if he attempted to acquire a weapon.
He still got one, thanks to a Philadelphia man. Police believe Michael Henry sold Thomas the gun that he used to kill the officer, who was a New Hanover Township husband and father, before he turned the weapon on himself.
It’s called a “straw purchase,” where someone who cannot legally obtain a gun uses a third party to get their hands on a weapon.
It is a problem law enforcers see every day in high-crime areas. And it is something both sides of the heated gun control debate can agree on — it’s a huge problem, in no small part because it defeats the whole purpose of the background check.
Thomas would not have been able to legally obtain a gun because he was on probation. Any attempt he would have made to buy a gun legally would have been thwarted. Of course, that doesn’t stop criminals from getting their hands on guns, and it didn’t stop Thomas from being armed when he fled police. And from using that weapon to take the life of Officer Fox.
In the heartache and anger stemming from the senseless murder of Officer Fox, some good may have resulted. Outraged by Thomas’ ability to get his dirty hands on a gun, Montgomery County state representatives pushed legislation that would mandate a five-year mandatory minimum prison sentence for someone taking part in a straw purchase.
The law, signed by Gov. Tom Corbett and hailed by law enforcement authorities, carries Officer Fox’s name. The governor noted that while Fox was shot and killed by one man, “a felon who should never have had a gun,” he did not act alone, but rather he was helped, “less directly, by the hand of the man who later admitted buying the gun and passing it along.”
Now the Brad Fox Law has been put into use.
A Chester woman has become the first person in the state to be charged using the Brad Fox Law for taking part in a straw gun purchase.
Police allege Staci Dawson purchased a Kel-Tec 9 mm pistol at a Lower Chichester sporting goods store on Feb. 27. On March 5, David Colon, described by police as Dawson’s boyfriend, was taken into custody on drug charges. Arrested with him was Shamar Atkinson. Police say Atkinson had in his possession the gun bought by Dawson.
Dawson now faces two counts each of providing false information for a firearm purchase, making false statements, tampering with public records, making false reports, illegally transferring a firearm and criminal conspiracy.
The law passed in Officer Fox’s honor is a worthy memorial and a much-needed deterrent to those who aid and abet the process of getting guns into the hands of dangerous criminals who cannot obtain them legally.
Hopefully, the arrest of Staci Dawson will send a strong message to those considering taking part in a straw purchase. These kinds of heinous acts already cost Officer Fox his life.
Dawson should consider herself lucky. If convicted, she will only lose five years of hers.
— 21st Century Media:
The Delaware County Daily Times