By Pat Loeb
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Law enforcement and elected officials from both parties and three counties joined together today to back state legislation that would impose a mandatory two-year prison sentence on anyone caught carrying an illegal gun in Philadelphia.
“I want people to know all across Philadelphia: you carry, you do two,” said Philadelphia district attorney Seth Williams.
Williams says putting criminals armed illegally in prison will reduce gun violence in Philadelphia. He says that 85 percent of the 334 homicides in the city last year were carried out with handguns, and “not one of those homicides committed with a handgun was committed by someone that lawfully possessed a firearm.”
Right now, illegally carrying a gun in Philadelphia is a misdemeanor. The law would make it a felony.
The measure would apply only to Philadelphia, but the Montgomery and Delaware County DAs urged adoption.
Delco DA Jack Whelan noted that gun crime does not stop at the city’s border.
“A safer Philadelphia is a safer Delaware County, and in fact a safer Southeastern Pennsylvania,” Whelan said.
The bill’s sponsors — state representative John Taylor (R) and state senator Larry Farnese (D) — say it has a good chance of passage because it would not affect owners of legal guns.