“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?