BALTIMORE (WJZ/AP) — Baltimore officials are proposing a mandatory one-year sentence for illegal gun possession within 100 yards of a school, park, church or public building.
Mayor Catherine Pugh announced the local legislation Friday, along with Police Commissioner Kevin Davis and other local officials.
“Violence has been escalating in our city since 2015,” Pugh said. “We know there’s almost a church on every corner in city of Baltimore, as it relates to this legislation, that’s a great thing.”
Pugh says the attorney general has provided an opinion that the local measure is constitutional.
“Mandatory means without possibility of parole, un-suspendable, these things are not much different than current law,” said Del. Kurt Anderson.
Police have said time and time again the problem is that illegal gun owners are not afraid of being caught with a deadly weapon in their hands. They refer to this as a quick solution and the best they can do right now.
City Council President Jack Young said people walking around Baltimore with illegal guns are not well-intentioned.
“Legislators from around the State, if what’s happening in Baltimore, was happening in their counties, they’d be on board with what we’re trying to do,” Young said.
Davis said the proposal aims to hold people who want to cause harm accountable.
“It’s a misdemeanor offense that more times than not, results in less jail time then a person gets for having 10 rocks of crack cocaine in their pocket,” he said.
He says out of 318 murders last year in Baltimore, 84 percent were committed by someone using a handgun. He says there have been 185 murders this year, 86 percent were committed by someone using a handgun.
In 605 recent arrests involving illegal guns, defendants were found guilty but 60 percent received more than half of their sentence suspended.
City police said nearly 90 percent of the murders this year were committed using a handgun.
Officials hope this leads to a push for even harsher sentences for illegal possession during the next legislative session in Annapolis.
Outside of schools, churches, parks and public buildings, the bill also includes public places. The mayor said any business could be considered a public place, although, some are private.
Officials say the plan is to introduce this bill on Monday for a city that’s on pace for a third straight year of 300 homicides.
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