Five years ago, Rick Bowes and fellow highway patrol officer Patrick McDonald responded to a request for backup for a suspect fleeing a car stop. The suspect, Daniel Giddings, a convicted carjacker with “a history of assaulting cops, prison guards, and fellow inmates,” was in possession of an illegal gun.

The ensuing confrontation with Giddings cost Officer McDonald his life, and left Officer Bowes with gunshot related injuries that have required multiple surgeries and kept him on injured-on-duty leave from the police force.

Since that night, Bowes has dedicated himself to gun violence prevention advocacy, calling for tougher penalties for straw purchasers – people with clean records who buy guns for ineligible purchasers – and for parole violators. He has worked extensively with CeaseFirePA, working to make our state safer even in the face of a populace and lawmakers that generally do not look kindly on increasing gun restrictions.

“We have to convince them, hopefully through victim-impact statements, that we need stricter gun laws,” Bowes said. “I understand that out there [rural areas where lawmakers have resisted new gun legislation], you don’t have the problems that we have in the city. But we need help with this. We need help in the city.”

Bowes has been profiled in the Philadelphia Daily News, which can be read here. It’s important that as many people as possible learn of his story and his advocacy work, and see what lax gun laws can cost. Officer Bowes is a hero, and we thank him for his service.