Gun control advocates have speculated about the gunman in Philadelphia who wounded six police officers on Wednesday. They were quick to assume that somehow America's so-called "lax" gun laws were to blame for the man having access to a firearm. According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, the gunman is 36-year-old, Maurice Hill, who has a long criminal history of gun convictions, resisting arrest and drug dealing.
Hill was reportedly identified when an anonymous source told the Inquirer Hill's lawyer, Shaka Mzee Johnson, received a phone call asking him to come to the apartment building he was barricaded in.
“My client is requesting me to come to the scene,” he said.
From the Inquirer:
Hill’s history in the adult criminal justice system began in 2001 when he was 18 and was arrested with a gun that had an altered serial number.
Public records show that he has been arrested about a dozen times since turning 18, and convicted six times on charges that involved illegal possession of guns, drug dealing, and aggravated assault. He has been in and out of prison; the longest sentence handed him came in 2010, when a federal judge gave him a 55-month term.
And, his record would indicate, he does not like to go to prison. In 2008, he was convicted of escaping, fleeing from police, and resisting arrest. Along the way, he beat criminal charges on everything from kidnapping to attempted murder.
Hill also spent time in federal prison. In 2008, he pleaded guilty to federal firearms violations after he was caught with a Smith & Wesson .357 and later a Taurus PT .45 semiautomatic. His prior felony convictions should have barred him from owning those weapons. U.S. District Judge Paul S. Diamond sentenced him to four years and seven months in prison.
More recently, Hill was convicted of perjury in 2013 and sentenced to seven years of probation. He appeared before Common Pleas Court Judge Rayford Means for three different alleged violations of probation — at least two of them related to new cases, which he later beat.
In one of those cases, Philadelphia police arrested Hill in May 2014, after spotting him driving an unregistered scooter. But when officers tried to stop him, he raced down an alleyway against traffic on a one way street and then onto a sidewalk, sending pedestrians scattering, court records say. Hill crashed the scooter and then fled on foot but was apprehended. He was charged with driving without a license, recklessly endangering another person, and fleeing police, but later was acquitted on all counts.
Philadelphia police arrested Hill again in October 2014 on charges of drug possession and false imprisonment.
According to court filings, his accuser told police she had agreed to sell marijuana for Hill but then later changed her mind. When he summoned her to his house on the 6900 block of Greenway Street in Southwest Philadelphia days later, she says, she overheard Hill and an associate discussing killing her. Fearful for her life, the woman said, she called 911. When officers arrived, she fled as Hill and his associate hid the crack cocaine and marijuana in a tire out back. Investigators discovered 83 grams of marijuana.
The gunman is allegedly a serial criminal. He has a record with the law. He's not supposed to have firearms in his possess but, as gun rights advocates have long said, criminals don't suddenly wake up and decide to follow the law. Passing a new gun law isn't suddenly going to make them decide to follow the rules.
Gun control advocates, like Kamala Harris, can't argue that some stricter "gun safety" plan would have prevented this. It wouldn't. Stricter background checks wouldn't have kept the shooter from obtaining a firearm. It's already illegal for him to have the gun in his possession. There's no way to make things "super illegal" or even more illegal than they already are.