The man accused of murdering Illinois State Trooper Nick Hopkins in East St. Louis on Friday is well known to law enforcement in the area, with a lengthy criminal history that includes previous charges of being a felon in possession of a firearm.

Grant’s criminal history in St. Clair County includes drug possession in Belleville in 2003 and 2005, being a felon in possession of a gun in 1996, obstructing justice in 1996 and resisting or obstructing a peace officer in Washington Park in 1995. One of the crimes is that Grant sold cocaine to an undercover agent near a school in Belleville in 2003. He pleaded guilty and was sentenced to four years in prison.

Hopkins was allegedly killed by Christopher R. Grant during the execution of a search warrant at a home in East St. Louis early Friday morning. Hopkins, a member of the Illinois State Police SWAT unit and a husband and father of three, was killed in an exchange of gunfire. He has the tragic distinction of being the first ISP SWAT member to die in the line of duty.

Grant, meanwhile, has been on the wrong side of the law on multiple occasions for more than 20 years. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch notes that Grant was convicted of being a felon in possession of a firearm back in 1996, which means he must have an earlier felony conviction, and has convictions through at least 2005. How many sweetheart deals and slaps on the wrist has Grant received over the years? How many opportunities have their been to take this guy off the street for an extended period of time, only to offer him a plea bargain to a lesser charge instead?

There’s not a gun control law you could put on the books that’s gonna stop a guy like Christopher Grant from illegally getting ahold of a gun. You can take 100,000,000 firearms from legal gun owners and a guy like Christopher Grant will just laugh. You can demand he get a gun license, since he has a driver’s license, and guys like Grant will roll their eyes.

What works to stop guys like Christopher Grant, a convicted felon who should never have had a gun in the first place, is actually enforcing the laws that we currently have in place. Guys like Grant have no respect for the criminal justice system because they’ve seen how it works (and more importantly, how it doesn’t work). They know that, unless and until their crimes end up on the front page of the paper, when it comes time to go to trial for their crimes, they’re gonna get a deal. Those days are over for Grant, because not only did he allegedly break the law, he broke the rules. If you’re accused of murdering a police officer, your days of copping a plea to a lesser charge are over.

If you’d like to help the family of Officer Hopkins, the Post-Dispatch notes a couple of ways for you to donate:

One is BackStoppers. The other is through the Illinois State Police Heritage Foundation.

Contributions can be made to the Heritage Foundation online at www.isphf.org/donations. Donors should write “Trooper Nick Hopkins Memorial Fund” in the comment section. Donations can also be sent to the foundation by mail at P.O. Box 8168, Springfield, Illinois, 62791.