BALTIMORE (WJZ) — A controversial gun bill has passed in City Council, giving a mandatory one year sentence to certain criminals caught with an illegal handgun.
The bill passed despite seven council members who voted against it, and eight other council members voted for the bill.
Criminals will only get the mandatory minimum if they’ve been convicted of a gun violation in the past, or if the person commits a crime while carrying an illegal handgun.
In a city with a notorious crime image, Baltimore’s city council passed a bill that will give criminals caught with an illegal handgun, a mandatory one year in jail.
It had a rocky road to approvals, as Baltimore leaders grasp at different plans to get the crime under control.
“Still people I grew up with who are out there carrying guns, shooting people. These people are not going to be deterred by one year of jail time,” says Baltimore City Councilman Brandon Scott.
The bill passed a second read last month with 8-7 vote.
“If you are illegally carrying a gun on the streets of Baltimore, you’re carrying an instrument of death. You should not be doing that. This imposes a penalty that will hopefully change that behavior,” says Baltimore City Councilman Eric Costello
For Baltimoreans who experience the violence, they welcome the change if it makes a difference.
“We need to do what we got to do because if you’re telling me hey, I am going to give you a mandatory one year sentence for carrying around a gun, then common sense should tell them not to have it,” says Jasmine Grant.
“I do think it’s going to be a good advantage because it’s going to stop a lot of people from carrying guns,” says Esra Davis.
“We’re focused on how we bring violence down in our city, that’s one piece of it, but there are a whole lot of other parts to it as well,” says Mayor Catherine Pugh, who has supported the bill.
As soon as the mayor signs this bill, it goes into effect immediately.
The city’s police commissioner Kevin Davis, has also been a strong advocate for tougher gun laws in Baltimore.