Not even the influence of the gun lobby was enough to overcome the impact on lawmakers of a murdered police officer. So, more than a year after the state House passed a bill to increase penalties against "straw purchasers" of guns, the Senate passed the bill Oct. 17, the last day of the legislative session.

The Senate rejected a series of amendments pressed by the NRA and voted 49-0 to approve the new law, which creates a mandatory five-year prison sentence for anyone convicted more than once of acting as a "straw purchaser."

Such purchasers are people who legally buy weapons but then sell them illegally to someone with a criminal record.

Police say such a straw purchase put a firearm in the hands of Andrew Thomas, who in September used it to murder Officer Bradley Fox, Plymouth Twp., Montgomery County, and to kill himself. The weapon allegedly had been purchased and sold to Mr. Thomas by Michael Henry, who has been charged.

Such a graphic display of the danger of straw purchases left the Senate little choice but to choose safety over the gun lobby.

The new law is important, hopefully it will indeed help to keep guns out of the hands of people who should not have them.