Son of Slain Coach: Guns Not the Problem - FOX 18 Quad Cities News and Weather

Son of Slain Coach: Guns Not the Problem

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The national debate over gun control is hitting close to home.

Aaron Thomas, the son of former Aplington-Parkersburg football coach Ed Thomas, spoke in Dewitt today about dealing with adversity.

Ed Thomas was shot and killed by a former player in front of his team in 2009.

Aaron Thomas says when it comes to gun control, lawmakers are focusing on the wrong issue.

Ed Thomas was described by his son on Sunday as a figurehead for the small community of Aplington-Parkersburg. His death at the hands of a gunman was a huge loss.

But, while giving talks to different audiences around Iowa and across the nation, Aaron Thomas isn't looking for sympathy. His is a message of forgiveness.

When asked directly about what can be learned from his dad's death, he said that was an easy question to answer -- he said guns were not the reason his dad is dead today.

It was the bad choices of his father's killer, Mark Becker, who needed help dealing with mental illness - help that he didn't get.

"It was a .22. It wasn't like one of these guns that we seem to be hearing about with this whole gun control law," Thomas said.

"Mark Becker was hospitalized in a medical center in Waterloo just three days before my dad was killed. He was released and law enforcement had no idea," he went on to explain.

In 2010, Aaron and his family were successful in creating a new law in Iowa, which says law enforcement must be notified when a mental health patient they brought in to a hospital has been released.

Aaron says if that makes it so one less person does not suffer like he did, that will do more good than any words he can spread.

President Obama is still trying to push a federal gun law through Congress. Although the discussion continues, that bill has hit several road blocks in the House and the Senate.

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