Gun control conversation must continue

Published May 15, 2013 at 4:35 pm (Updated May 15, 2013 at 4:35 pm)

F or the second week in a row, headlines announcing local drug busts have dominated the front page of this newspaper. Last week, three were arrested on drug charges, prompting lock downs at Canon-McMillan High School and South Central Elementary School. Found in the vehicle were two bricks of heroin, Ecstasy pills and cocaine, with a total street value of $4,000.

On this week’s front page is the story of a Canonsburg resident who was arrested at his home on College Street, a mere half block from Canonsburg Middle School, on charges of possession and possession with intent to deliver cocaine, possession of paraphernalia and persons not to possess a firearm. Because of a previous conviction of aggravated assault with a weapon in connection with a 1997 shooting, Joshua Thomas is not permitted to possess firearms. However, this didn’t stop him from having a shotgun, .22-caliber rifle, .357-caliber handgun, assault rifle and Ruger and Glock handguns.

It is not currently known how Thomas came to obtain the weapons, but situations like these are exactly why tougher gun control laws are a must in the United States. There is no reason for any civilian to possess an assault rifle. For someone who is not supposed to possess any firearms whatsoever, it is heinous that Thomas had the arsenal that he did. And let us not forget his close proximity to the middle school – children walked by his house every day on their way to and from school.

As we have stated before, we realize that people are going to purchase guns and other weapons on the black market, but that doesn’t mean laws and policies should not be put into place. It was extremely disappointing when the Senate voted down the expanded background check gun legislation last month, despite that the majority of U.S. citizens support the measure. At what point does the issue stop being a partisan one? At what point do government officials get out of bed with the NRA? And, at what point do we see clearly what really matters here – the safety of our children, citizens and officers of the law?

Following the arrest of Thomas, Canonsburg Mayor David Rhome said, “Ninety percent of crimes in our community goes back to drugs. If we get rid of the majority of the problem, then the rest goes away.”

In this particular case, not only did one more drug dealer get removed from the streets, but a number of illegal weapons did, too. Hopefully, area police continue to make these type of arrests and clean up otherwise beautiful, pleasant communities. And in the process, hopefully the gun control issue does not die.

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