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Renewed Calls to Pass Mandatory Minimum Prison Sentence for Illegal Gun Possession in Philadelphia
On August 20, 2014
Philadelphia, June 20, 2014 — 22-year-old Brandon Ruffin is facing Murder, Attempted Murder, Aggravated Assault and other charges for the senseless shooting on August 1, 2014, on Etting Street, that claimed the life of
3-year-old Tynirah Borum. Ruffin, a convicted felon who was scheduled for a premlinary hearing today, would have been behind bars at the time of the murder if a mandatory minimum sentence for illegally carrying a firearm in Philadelphia had been enacted.
Today, Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams was joined by State Senator Larry Farnese (D-Phila), State Representative John Taylor (R-Phila), Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey, Councilman Kenyatta Johnson, Delaware County District Attorney Jack Whelan, Bucks County District Attorney David Heckler, the First Assistant District Attorneys of Montgomery and Chester Counties, and local religious leaders to once again encourage lawmakers in Harrisburg to pass House Bill 1091 or Senate Bill 801. The legislation would increase the sentence for illegally carrying of a firearm in Philadelphia under Title 18, Section 6108 to a third degree felony and add a mandatory minimum sentence of at least two years of total confinement; currently the offense is a misdemeanor.
“A 3-year-old girl lost her life while getting her hair braided on a front porch,” said District Attorney Seth Williams. “There are no words to explain how or why this happened, but in my heart I believe there is a way we can show our respect for little Tynirah Borum. The best way to honor her memory is to pass this legislation sponsored Senator Farnese and Representative Taylor.”
“This bill will give prosecutors an additional tool to fight illegal firearm possession and violence in the City of Philadelphia,” said Representative John Taylor (R-Phila). “This is commonsense legislation and it is long overdue. We must do everything we can to protect our families from gun violence, and that starts with making sure those who illegally carry weapons are placed behind bars.”
“It’s good to once again stand with State Representative John Taylor, who is sponsoring similar legislation in the House, and Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams to advocate for the passage of legislation that will set a mandatory minimum sentence for illegally carrying a gun in Philadelphia,” said Senator Larry Farnese (D-Phila). “Unfortunately, recent events have brought the dangers of illegal guns and gun violence to too many of Philadelphia’s neighborhoods, which is why so many members of the community have come together today to join us in calling for the passage of this legislation so we can give law enforcement another tool to keep our city safe.”
It is important to note that the language of House Bill 1091 and Senate Bill 801 puts the burden on the Commonwealth to prove that the possessor of the firearm is not the lawful owner. This language is necessary for several reasons, including where travelers from other counties have entered Philadelphia via automobile and get pulled over with a firearm in their car.
It is also worth noting that of those arrested for homicide by firearm between July, 2013 and July, 2014, only two possessed permits to carry a firearm, further demonstrating that this legislation targets individuals who are not law-abiding.
“Let’s be clear, this legislation is for illegal gun possession in Philadelphia,” continued the District Attorney. “It is the irresponsible and illegal actions of people like Brandon Ruffin that continue to damage the entire city of Philadelphia, and the passage of this legislation will help us keep the Brandon Ruffins of the world behind bars longer.”
Delaware County District Attorney Jack Whelan and Bucks County District Attorney David Heckler stressed that this legislation will help reduce violence in the counties that surround Philadelphia. Mr. Whalen said that “…this legislation will help us reduce violence in Delaware County. Providing my law enforcement partners in Philadelphia an additional tool to target criminals that carry firearms illegally will help get them off the streets before they commit violent crimes in Delaware County.”
Echoing this point, Bucks County District Attorney David Heckler added, “This two year mandatory minimum sentence will be a big help to Bucks County. Many times, those who carry guns without a license in Philadelphia cross the county line to Bucks County for the purpose of committing more crimes. We need to be proactive and stop criminals before they terrorize more people. I urge quick passage of this legislation.”