Some of Pennsylvania's top law enforcement officials are pushing for approval of increased penalties for illegal gun possession, telling a state Senate Judiciary Committee hearing Thursday that it's a "huge issue" and a national problem.
According to the Philadelphia Inquirer
, the law officers are concerned that despite prohibitions against violent felons being allowed to ever own guns again, more and more of them are turning up with weapons after release from prison and only being sentenced to probation or light jail terms.
Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles H. Ramsey told the committee Thursday, "It's a huge issue . . . This is not just a Philadelphia problem, it's a national problem."
Ramsey and other law enforcement officers are supporting a bill that would put in place a mandatory minimum sentence of five years for a previously convicted felon found with a gun. There would be no chance of parole, time off for good behavior, or work release.
Citing police statistics, the Inquirer noted there were 223 homicides alone in Philadelphia this year, a 13 percent increase over 2011. Most of them were shootings carried out by previously convicted felons.
The Inquirer reported that Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams "framed the issue in personal terms" for the lawmakers, telling them, "If you're carrying a gun illegally, you are willing to shoot Aunt Shirley, my favorite aunt, or one of my three daughters."
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