By Mike Hellgren

BALTIMORE (WJZ)— Most first-time gun offenders in Baltimore serve no time behind bars and top Baltimore City leaders are pushing to change that.

Mike Hellgren has the mayor’s case and who’s helping her make it.

Police swarmed Park Heights Avenue. A shooting at a grocery store left one person dead. This is an example of the brazen, gun-related crimes that have Baltimore’s top leaders pleading with Maryland legislators for tougher gun laws.

Among those helping them make the case, Nicole Harris, whose father—former City Councilman Ken Harris–was gunned down in 2008. She recently spoke to WJZ.

“Charles McGaney was found with a gun one year before he murdered my father and he was only given 85 days in jail,” Harris said. “This should be a wake-up call to city officials and legislators that one of their colleagues was taken.” 

First-time gun offenders in Baltimore serve an average of four months in jail; 82 percent of them serve no jail time at all.

“We can change the culture of guns on the streets, not just in Baltimore but statewide,” said Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake.

The bills would mandate an 18-month sentence for anyone found in possession of an illegal loaded weapon and tougher sentences for repeat gun offenders.

But the mayor faces critics who wonder whether the laws could unfairly lead to the arrest of those who legally own guns and give too much power to prosecutors.

“I know there are always going to be detractors, but I stay focused on what I know is the truth,” Rawlings-Blake said.

The mayor’s supporters say cases like the shooting of an officer late last year illustrate her point.

The man accused, Franklin Gross, had five prior gun arrests and served only two years of a 12-year armed robbery sentence–getting out just days before the shooting.

“We’re talking about individuals who have a history, a convicted history of guns and violence,” Rawlings-Blake said.

“Hopefully, our legislators will act in a manner that will try to combat this issue,” Harris said.

In her State of the City Address, the mayor said getting this legislation passed is one of her top priorities.

Comments (13)
  1. Squaregrouper says:

    We need to enforce the laws already on the books. Reserve prison for violent offenders and we won’t have to let them out early.

    1. Doug says:

      A property owner is protected inside his home when using a gun to protect his property. But if you step outside to stop someone stealing from your garage this law throws you in jail for 18 months. We do not need more laws, we need trained police who know the law and how to enforce the law we have. Check out New Hampshire gun laws and un-intended consequences.

  2. bernard F Mc Kernan says:

    About time. A five year mandatory sentence for those brandishing or carting a gun without a license. Get tough on da hoodies

  3. Dustin says:

    How about you consider letting law abiding citizens carry in the state? Seems like to me Maryland has some of the toughest gun laws in the country….stricter gun laws only effects one demographic and it isn’t criminals

    think about it

  4. Brian says:

    Quit making deals with these people, and stop the turnstyle door give them the sentence that is handed down if you get 5 years then you do 5 years not 16 months

  5. james says:

    we dont need more gun laws we need to inforce the one’s we have,how about cant even cary a gun in this state legaley. get your head out off your rear S.R BLAKE. an do your job.thouse aren’t legale guns there careing. get real this is just another trash news story that means dodo.

  6. Ken says:

    This area has some of the most restrictive firearm laws in the country. Every time a gun is used in a crime. This state already has a mandatory 5 year sentence for use of a gun in a crime of violence. The correctional system is so crowded they cannot serve the time. We need more places to keep them not more laws. In most states in the country law abiding citizens can lawfully carry weapons and crime has gone down by big numbers. Liberals will never allow people here to have their legal “right to carry” What criminal in his/her right mind is going to try to harm a person who may be able to defend themselves!!!!

  7. John Kochtosten says:

    Are you listening there Baltimore City Leaders? Not new laws, instead better enforcement.

  8. Lawrence says:

    Virginia has “Project Exile”
    5 years minimum sentence without parole for ANY gun viloation.

    IT WORKS!!

  9. Chuck says:

    ENFORCE what we have first. You can’t say the laws don’t work if we’re not enforcing them

  10. Brina says:

    The law stink like hell! Because baltimore city dont know! what they want to do with city. Help the children!!!! There should be more mentoring these young men. Because they are lost and we as the people and parents in the world has fail them, so when they go out in the world and seek other thing like DRUGS, GUNS, and be something other than what we try to teach them to be. They get caught up. With the wrong crowd. But the law have so many different rules so many different cases. SO baltimore get it together!!!!! Especially with the LAWS!!!

  11. Lou Gots says:

    You don’t have a gun problem, you have a maggot problem. What you need is incapacitory incarceration. of the really bad people. Let me suggest a three-strikes law.

  12. charmcity says:

    I blame LIL Wayne… lol… and the parents who let these TV personalities raise their kids… How many innocent people have died here in MD… if they where allowed to carry… maybe the right person would be dead… MD will never be perfect… the city has gone down way to much.. parents are too young, no role models… nothing for these kids to do besides clubs and shoot each other… and what does the city do???… send them to the county and hop[e they cant finf thier way back… not the answer… they recruit more friends and make they way back.

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