By Brad Segall
NORRISTOWN, Pa. (CBS) – A Montgomery County lawmaker is pushing legislation designed to take guns out of the hands of people who shouldn’t have them by putting them behind bars for a longer period of time.READ MORE: Philadelphia Commerce Director Michael Rashid Resigns After He Reportedly Made Anti-Semitic Remarks, Verbally Abused His Staff
Law enforcement officials from throughout the Philadelphia region testified at a public hearing that House Bill 2331 will go a long way toward being a disincentive to people carrying a gun illegally. The measure, sponsored by State Rep. Todd Stephens creates a mandatory minimum five years in prison for a convicted felon caught with a gun.
Stephens says it also classifies it as a ‘crime of violence’, increasing penalties for subsequent arrests. “On top of that it would foster I think greater cooperation and you know it would allow our prosecutors and police to get at the heart of this problem, which are the straw purchasers and you know the source of these illegal guns.”READ MORE: Water Main Break Flooding Multiple Buildings In Society Hill Section, Officials Say
Stephens, a former prosecutor, says statewide stats show 19 percent of all people convicted of illegally possessing a gun either had a prior conviction for a crime of violence or a prior gun offense. “These certainly aren’t people who just pocketed a pack of gum from the corner store when they were 14-years-old. These are armed gun-toting violent thugs and we’ve got to treat them that way and we’ve got to get serious with them.”
In Philadelphia this year, 850 people have been shot and more than 2,000 illegal guns have been seized from city streets. The bill has already passed the House and now awaits action in the Senate.MORE NEWS: Philadelphia Union Miss Out On Eastern Conference Championship Amid COVID Crisis