Baltimore homicides (courtesy baltimojresun.com)

“Baltimore Police Commissioner Kevin Davis wants the General Assembly to pass legislation requiring that people who are caught with a loaded handgun be locked up for at least a year,” baltimoresun.com reports. “The legislation would convert the current sentence of up to 30 days to a mandatory year or more in jail. A second offense would be a felony that would require at least five years behind bars. The bill would strip from judges the discretion to reduce those sentences.” Good idea? Here are the pros and [not yet ex] cons . . .

At a news conference in Baltimore last week, Davis highlighted the case of a city man arrested with five illegal guns. He had been arrested two months earlier on a gun charge, and several other times before that.

Davis called him “just the type of gun-carrying bad guy that needs to be incarcerated.” . . .

The lawmakers pushing the bill in the General Assembly say they don’t expect it to end all gun deaths. But they argue it would limit risk.

“I don’t think there’s any one thing that is going to stop violence in Baltimore,” said Del. Luke Clippinger, the Baltimore Democrat who sponsored the bill in the House of Delegates.

“If you’re in possession of a loaded gun that you’re not supposed to have, I don’t have patience for that,” Clippinger said. “It has the capacity to destroy lives and further destroy neighborhoods.” . . .

Other Democrats who have voted against gun control measures have signed on to help pass this one.

“Every homicide I’ve ever prosecuted starts with someone having a loaded gun they shouldn’t have,” said Del. C.T. Wilson, a Charles County Democrat and former prosecutor. “Don’t you want to stop them before they do that? That’s the whole key. You can’t save lives if you wait until after they commit the murder.”

Davis’s initiative is being back burnered by Maryland Democrats and criticized by Republicans.

Republicans, who often argue Maryland needs stiffer penalties for gun crimes rather than new gun laws, asked whether the proposal would cast too broad a net and would cause problems in the state’s rural areas.

“Usually, I’m a guy who says you’ve got to have a minimum for these criminals,” said Senate Minority Leader J.B. Jennings, a Baltimore County Republican. “If you’ve got some guy out in the country, and it’s obvious that he was doing something on the farm, should he really get locked up for a year for that?”

Maryland already has strict penalties for parolees, felons and people with violent convictions who are caught with a gun. And there are separate laws to punish people for committing crimes with a gun.

“Our greatest criticism of the way we handle gun crimes in Maryland is that they are not enforced,” said House Minority Leader Nic Kipke, an Anne Arundel County Republican. “We don’t enforce the gun laws we have.”

Yes, well, there is that (Democrat presidential candidate Bernie Sanders’ rant against the “over-incarceration” of minorities notwithstanding). Your thoughts?

Recommended For You

58 Responses to Question of the Day: Baltimore Mandatory Minimum for Illegal Firearm Possession. Good Idea?

  1. The only thing that should make a firearm illegally possessed is that it is stolen. Otherwise laws against possession are infringing that which shall not be infringed.

    • I’m with you… and all the “laws” that prohibit so many people from taking responsibility for their own lives and property. The idea of trying to predict who “might” do harm with a gun is no different than trying to predict who might do harm with a baseball bat, a screwdriver or a pack of matches. And yet, people do all the time. Why just guns? Because they are the single most effective tool to actually defend oneself from all the thousands of other weapons in the hands of someone who wants to do us harm! And free, independent individuals are what the gun grabbers hate the most. Not that we might die, but that we might prevent them from killing US, when they please.

      The reason these people want to take our guns is that they want to do things to us we won’t allow as long as we are armed…

  2. Any overriding judges discretion is NEVER a good idea.

    We start this because some judge someplace gave a ridiculously light sentence, but we forget that that power when NOT abused allows judges to NOT sentence people who cross a bridge in new jersey to do 5-10 in prison.

  3. “Don’t you want to stop them before they do that? …”

    So were just going to throw out innocent until proven guilty? This is a dangerous proposition…

  4. Mandatory minimums are not the solution. Federal law says felon in possession does five years. So nine times out of ten, at least here in Oregon and in my opinion, the prosecutor will plea bargain it off for some other misdemeanor charge so A) they get to rack up a win in the conviction column and B) they don’t fill up court dockets and prison beds. The bad guy is back out in weeks or months and they get to chum him again in the catch and release fishery stocked for the prosecutor’s pleasure. Prosecute first, then work with the judges to impose harder sentences on violent repeat offenders or known gang members, drug dealers, etc. Guess it boils down to common sense but that’s not allowed in the legal system.

  5. I don’t think taking the ability of a judge and or jury to consider circumstance when imposing a sentence is ever a good idea.

  6. How about instead go to Constitutional Carry? Works for multiple states that manage to much, much less violent than Philly.

  7. All that said, they could make an official recommendation for a higher sentence without making it a requirement.

    i.e. Perpetrators SHOULD get 1 year, etc. etc.

    Apparently (not having read the law), the current sentence is 30 days, but it (the article) doesn’t even say “mandatory”.

    Make the sentence 1 year and available for all of the prosecutorial and judicial shenanigans available to other “non-mandatory” sentences.

    • Sorry, and I do not know why this is so controversial, but the Second Amendment does NOT say, “…shall not be infringed unless you are a convicted felon.”

      • Ok… Then just keep them in jail. Some people shouldn’t be in public, especially if they have access to firearms.

        • Once again, sorry, but the Second Amendment does not include any option for anyone to decide who may or may not exercise their right to keep and bear arms. In those 27 words there is no “but…” or “except for…”

          Who gets to decide, and on what authority?

          If you agree that the government has the authority to create, maintain and enforce a list of persons who, in the opinion of the government, may not exercise their Second Amendment protected right to keep and bear arms, how will you keep your name off of that list?

  8. ““Every homicide I’ve ever prosecuted starts with someone having a loaded gun they shouldn’t have,” said Del. C.T. Wilson, a Charles County Democrat and former prosecutor. ”

    *Every* homicide? Yeah, right. (sarc)

    Part of me likes the concept, the other part of me believes it will be abused.

    Besides, there’s no realistic way they can enforce it, prisons cost serious money.

  9. Mandatory minimums are silly. NJ is a perfect example. Be a legal gun owner from another state, just traveling through, no criminal intent… But get in a car accident (and get caught) and the Judge will have NO CHOICE but to make the punishment fit the crime… FIT THE CRIME! think of it.

    silly. idiots. they cant deal with crime, poverty, education, or focus on the criminal ACT, instead, you carry this OBJECT and that is the crime. Silly.

  10. “’Every homicide I’ve ever prosecuted starts with someone having a loaded gun they shouldn’t have,’ said Del. C.T. Wilson, a Charles County Democrat and former prosecutor.”

    Hmmm…..I bet every homicide he ever prosecuted actually started with a criminal being on the streets who shouldn’t have been. Homicide isn’t typically a first time offense, you know.
    Lock up the career violent criminals, and you’ll ground their homicidal trajectories.

    By his own admission, people who shouldn’t have guns (prohibited possessors) are still getting them in Maryland. Yet another law that fails to target criminal behavior, instead obsessing over guns, will solve nothing.

  11. Mandatory sentencing laws are never a good idea. The whole reason to have a judge involved is to apply a human-level of judgment, taking in the totality of the circumstances of the crime, the defendant, and everything else into account before passing sentence. As with anything, there will be times that judges screw up. There will most definitely be someone, somewhere, who disagrees Every Single Time but this is a cornerstone of our justice system.

  12. Take every gun control law on the books and add the following;

    “While committing a violent felony”

    Automatically exempts the good people and nets the bad guys, while at the same time avoiding Gun owners being prosecuted wrongly for violating some BS arbitrary law such as an assault weapon possession violation, carrying a gun with no CCW, etc…

  13. Now that there is all this prison space from the non-violent drug offenders that we released, lets fill those spots with non-violent gun offenders!

  14. Victimless and non-violent crimes should NOT have mandatory minimums. They should be low level misdemeanors at most.

    Otherwise, we will end up with he same predicament of jailing pot possession and use.

  15. Of course not. It would only make possession more difficult for decent people. Look at recent examples in New Jersey.

    Most places, use of a firearm while committing a felony is either justification for a longer sentence or is a separate crime by itself. Police, prosecutors and judges already have all the legal tools they need to suppress violent crime. The just need to use them.

  16. How about this: Just prosecute people for actual crimes against people or property.

    Mere possession of a gun is a constitutional right. On the other hand, if you use a gun to commit a felony, you should forfeit your freedom for a very long time.

    • OK – so would you support a high mandatory minimum for armed robbery? That would probably get a sizable number of future murderers off the street.

      But of course one there is too much of a “disparate impact” DAs will be under pressure to just charge for theft or some lesser offense.

  17. As described in the post (I did not look at the link) they want to increase the penalty for being caught with a loaded gun.

    Quite aside from the issue of whether a mandatory minimum for a genuine crime is a good idea…having a loaded gun should NOT be considered a crime, not even one with a one cent fine, suspended.

  18. Hmmm… A mandatory minimum for exercising a constitutional right. Sounds like New Jersey has some competition.

  19. I have to point out the irony that in Maryland, there is almost no way for a law-abiding gun owner to have a loaded gun outside of their house or a shooting range, or if they are legally hunting. so MD is proposing a self-fulfilling prophecy that ANYONE ELSE with a loaded gun is de facto a criminal and therefore should be locked up for a year. So as someone said, they will become another NJ.

  20. I’m against this. There are lots of people that might have been busted with marijuana 20 years ago when they were young adults. These people go out 20 years later and buy a gun from a friend, get pulled over and searched for no reason, and now they are given a mandatory sentence. Lots of people are deemed irresponsible for firearm ownership, when there is nothing wrong. If Obama had his way, 4/5 would lose their right when their doctor says they have anxiety.

  21. I don’t think that mandatory minimum sentences are wise, except in the case of violent or deadly felonies. I’m tired of seeing murderers receiving short sentences.

    As for “illegal” gun possession, let the sentence fit the circumstances. A shopkeeper who has a gun to protect himself is not a danger to anyone except bad guys.

    Then again, bad guys are the heart and soul of Baltimurder’s ruling party.

  22. Mandatory minimum sentences do not effectively deter repeat offenders and are a bad idea. Give the sentencing Judges better options for length of sentence and leave it up to their discretion. Enforce existing law consistently.

  23. As noted above all mandatory minimum does is make innocent people go to jail for years or big fines for simple things like – unsecured weapon
    hunting rifle in back of car when traffic cop asked young hunter to step away from car and he didn’t lock it while being two steps away. Lost rifle and $1000 fine

  24. No, this will make it as stupid as the NJ law in that someone from out of state can go the jail for zero reason.

    All zero tolerance laws are dangerous and should be struck down.

    All the mandatory drug sentencing laws have done is make felons of accidental or stupid people and have done nothing to stem the drug problem nor the dealers.

  25. I am not a supporter of this, a lot of good people will get caught up in it. I am much more a fan of Florida’s 10-20-Life program. You commit a Felony with a firearm(Robbery) 10 years. You shoot the gun? 20 Years. You hit someone, life. Keeps thugs off the streets.

  26. Oh, the irony! Apparently, Mr. Davis has yet to notice the huge two story banner that hangs from the maximum security prison right off of 83, no more than a quarter of a mile from police headquarters that says, “Drop the gun, or pick up a room!” This was a promise that was given to we Baltimorean’s YEARS ago (the sign is rather faded, I’ll give him that), and all that lip service was bargained away for convenience and a revolving door that keeps folks moving through the system. Accountability has NEVER been a priority here in “Charm city”, or Mob town, take your pick. As someone who has been on several juries, at least two of which dealt with handgun crimes, the lawyers and the city/state bargain EVERYTHING away to get handgun convictions as that is part of their metrics for success. That doesn’t mean they do anything once they get the convictions apart from give lighter sentences for coming clean or snitching on others. This will go NOWHERE!

  27. 21 homicides in 30 days is what’s to be expected when you go to war with your police department. Baltimore decided social justice for some instead of justice for all was fair. Now they have a criminal class running the city and doing whatever they please. They want mandatory sentences so they can claim their hands are tied and you going to jail has nothing to do with the color of your skin or the fact that your a lowlife scumbag. Not being charged for the crime your in front of the judge for is the product of an inept prosecutor, not the lack of penalties. Gun violence is just another made up word along the lines of assault weapons and high capacity magazines. Instead of another law how about cleaning house of unqualified democrat officials who only hold their positions of power because of the color of their skin.

  28. Mandatory min. for possession of gun? No
    Mandatory min. for using a guns to commit a violent crime against others? Yes, absolutely.
    Those who abuse the 2A for criminal purposes should be the enemy of all who read this site.

  29. Well my son lives a scant 10 miles from Baltimore. I’ll have to ask him…oh wait- he called me a “gun nut”. And told me he’s safe ’cause of the cops living on either side of him. Yeah just enforce existing laws. No mandatory minimum BS. WE already lost that “war” on drugs…

  30. As a MD resident I would be all for this if they attached it to a shall issue requirement so those of us in the rural areas can carry legally. As for the rest of Baltimore they can take all the areas that aren’t the harbor and fells point and put up some really large walls and let the problem take care of itself.

    And although I don’t really like the idea of legalizing pot, we would have a whole lot more room in our prisons if it weren’t for guys getting a year for smoking

  31. ” You can’t save lives if you wait until after they commit the murder.”

    And you can’t save freedom, if you prosecute people before they have done anything wrong.

    And freedom trump lives any day, since one of the things you ca do with freedom, is minimize the chances your life is threatened, and attempt do defend it if/when that fails. While lives without freedom, is just a bunch of slaves. Which I’m sure is exactly what prosecutors, police chiefs and others of that ilk are masturbating to at night. But for those of us less morally and intellectually compromised:

    Better to die on one’s feet, etc….,

    You’d think that wold resonate even with the leechocrats, in these days of every slimebag trying to angle for the “Mexicun” vote…

  32. There is a difference between illegal possession of a gun and a gun possessed illegally. In the first the presence of the gun is all that matters and the latter the person with the gun isn’t allowed one. This idea blurs that line to make it all a crime. The result will be another gun free Zone with expected results

  33. Black democrat write the laws.
    Black judge hands are tied
    Black with loaded gun goes to jail.

    Black lives matter???? No they really don’t matter, but it does sound nice and you can make a lot of money or should I say raise a lot of money, just repeating the statement over and over again.
    Those who can I suggest you join Maryland Shall issue. A state gun rights group.

  34. As noted the Free State already has stiff sentences for convicted felons in possession of a gun. It seems that this proposed law will just snare innocent gun owners ala New Jersey, and do nothing to reduce Cherm City’s murder rate.

  35. Mandatory minimums are the stupidest idea ever to have crossed the minds of legislators. The law is blind so how could it possibly read that there is a bottom or top to the punishment meted out for any crime? The idea is to let judges work and decide case by case what punishment will help bring the offender back into society such that society doesn’t see the need to harm the offender further. The idea that punishments have to be brutal and long term are ridiculous holier-than-thou inspired idiocy of the highest order. I can’t even see how they’re constitutional.

  36. I think the existing laws are already more than enough. After any shooting you get the usual cries from statists that they couldn’t do anything because they need more laws on gun control. But when prosecutors get an actual opportunity to do something now, for example catching someone committing a crime with a gun, they waste that chance by plea bargaining out the illegal possession.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *