FUMO PROPOSES MANDATORY SENTENCES
FOR GUN LICENSE VIOLATIONS
HARRISBURG, November 29, 2007
– Intensifying efforts to get illegal guns off the streets, state Senator Vince
Fumo has introduced legislation to impose mandatory minimum sentences on anyone
convicted of carrying a concealed firearm without a valid license. His bill
would require at least a one-year prison term for such offenders.
Fumo noted that Pennsylvania has a system under which
people can obtain a legal permit to carry a concealed firearm. Given the high
murder rate in Philadelphia over the past several years, Fumo wants to crack
down harder on those who carry a weapon unlawfully.
“Today’s illegal gun is tomorrow’s murder. People who
do not go through proper channels to obtain a valid permit to carry are often
those with a criminal background or criminal intent. This will help law
enforcement officers by putting some of those people behind bars, before they
get a chance to commit a violent act,” Fumo said.
All state Senators from Philadelphia have signed on as
co-sponsors to the Fumo legislation (SB 1171.)
Click here to listen to audio of Sen.
Fumo discussing the legislation.
Under current law, judges can impose a sentence of
anywhere from zero to seven years upon someone who commits a third degree felony
gun license violation – those carrying a concealed weapon who are not eligible
to obtain a license, or who use the gun in commission of another crime.
Judges can impose a sentence of zero to five years upon
those who commit a first degree misdemeanor – those who are eligible to obtain a
license and have not committed any other criminal act.
In both cases, under Fumo’s bill, judges could still
impose the higher sentences, but would be required to give the offender at least
a one-year term.
Fumo introduced the legislation in response to discussions with some members of
the Philadelphia Police Department.
“There is no single law or single enforcement tactic
that, by itself, will solve the problem of gun crimes,” Fumo said. “We must try
a variety of strategies, and this is one of them. We must also continue trying
to attack the socioeconomic root causes of crime.”
Fumo has already taken several steps to reduce the
numbers of guns in the hands of Philadelphia criminals. Most recently, in 2006,
he conceived the idea for a special task force within the state Attorney
General’s Office to pursue illegal gun dealers, and obtained $5 million in
annual state funding. Working with the Philadelphia District Attorney and the
city Police Department, the task force had arrested 97 illegal gun dealers by
Fumo was also the primary author of the 1995 uniform
firearms act, which created the state’s instant background check system,
subjecting all firearms purchases to a state police check.
In the current legislative session, Fumo has also
signed on as co-sponsor of a number of gun-related bills authored by other state
Senators from Philadelphia. They include.
• Return or Destruction of Firearms (Sen. Vincent
Hughes) -- Law enforcement has 120 days to determine rightful owner of a
confiscated weapon. If owner cannot be determined in that period, law
enforcement must destroy the weapon.
• Registration of Firearms in Cities of the First Class
(Sen. Tina Tartaglione) – This would make registration mandatory. An owner who
fails to do so can be charged with a misdemeanor in the first degree.
• Report of Theft or Loss of Firearm (Tartaglione) –
Owners must report missing firearms within first 24 hours. If this is not done,
the penalty will be a summary offense with a fine not to exceed $500.
• Sale or Transfer of Firearms (Sen. Shirley Kitchen) –
This amends the penalty section for a straw purchase. The person who originally
purchased firearm will be held criminally liable.
• Corrupt Organizations (Kitchen) – This adds a section
relating to a person intentionally selling or transferring a firearm to a person
unqualified or ineligible to have one. It is an indictable offense.
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