Philadelphia Police and area District Attorneys applaud the bipartisan effort to make Philadelphia safer

PHILADELPHIA (April 4, 2013) – State Sen. Larry Farnese (D-Phila.) and State Rep. John Taylor (R-Phila.); joined today by First Deputy Police Commissioner Richard J. Ross, Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams, Montgomery County District Attorney Risa Vetri Ferman and Delaware County District Attorney John Whelan; announced new, bipartisan legislation (Senate Bill 801 and House Bill 1091) that would make Philadelphia safer by creating a mandatory minimum sentence for illegally carrying a firearm in Philadelphia.

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“This legislation, which I’m proud to be working on with my friend State Representative John Taylor, not only sets a mandatory minimum sentence for illegally carrying a gun in Philadelphia, but it gives Philadelphia’s law enforcement community an important new tool that will help curb gun violence and keep illegal weapons out of the hands of criminals,” said Farnese.  “In the end it all comes down to making sure, no matter where you live or work in Philadelphia, that everyone is safe from illegal guns and gun violence.”

The Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office is looking to duplicate the success of a New York City law that calls for a mandatory three and a half year sentence for anyone convicted of illegally carrying a loaded firearm.  Since enacted, violent crime in NYC has fallen significantly.

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.

“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,” Taylor said.  “This is common sense legislation and long overdue.”

In addition to meeting the needs of Philadelphia, this legislation will also help the counties surrounding Philadelphia.

“This legislation will make the message loud and clear — if you carry an illegal gun in Philadelphia, you will go to prison. This bill targets those criminals with illegal guns who terrorize our neighborhoods and make Philadelphia less safe.  These offenders need to be in prison, not out on our streets,” said Williams.

In the coming days the proposed legislation will be assigned to the appropriate committees in the Pennsylvania Senate and House for review and discussion.  A copy of both co-sponsorship memos is attached.

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Senator Larry Farnese was elected to the Senate in 2008 to represent Pennsylvania’s First Senatorial District which contains some of Philadelphia’s most unique and vibrant neighborhoods from Port Richmond on the Delaware River to Fairmount Park on the Schuylkill River and South Philadelphia, Center City, the Navy Yard, Philadelphia International Airport.  Senator Farnese serves as the Democratic Chair of the Communications and Technology Committee.  He is also a member of the Appropriations Committee, Banking and Insurance Committee, the Law and Justice Committee and the Judiciary Committee.  His District Office is located at 1802 S. Broad Street in Philadelphia, PA (ph: 215-952-3121) and his Harrisburg Office is located at 543 Main Capitol in Harrisburg, PA (ph: 717-787-5662).  More information about the Senator and his initiatives is available at www.senatorfarnese.com.

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Senate of Pennsylvania

1st Senatorial District

Co-Sponsorship Memorandum

 

From: Senator Lawrence Farnese
To: All Senate members
Subject: Mandatory minimum for illegal carry of a firearm in Philadelphia

 

In the near future, I plan to introduce legislation that would create a mandatory minimum sentence for illegally carrying a firearm in Philadelphia.
The Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office, in an effort to reduce violent crime in the city, has examined measures in other large cities with high violent crime rates that have effectively reduced murders and shootings, one such city being New York City.Seven years ago, New York City enacted a mandatory three and a half (3.5) year sentence for anyone convicted of illegally carrying a loaded firearm. Since the passage of this stiffer mandatory minimum sentence, violent crime in NYC has fallen significantly. For example, in 2012, murders in NYC fell by more than one hundred to 418 from 515 in 2011. This was their lowest number of murders in forty (40) years, with shootings falling to their lowest level in 18 years. While the mandatory minimum enactment is not the only factor contributing to the drop in violent crime in the city, it is a large factor and one we should not look over in Philadelphia.My legislation would specifically increase the grading for illegal carrying of a firearm in Philadelphia under Title 18, Section 6108 to a third (3rd) degree felony and add a mandatory minimum sentence of at least two (2) years total confinement. Current law grades this offense as a misdemeanor. Persons in violation of this section will not be eligible for parole, probation, work release or furlough. The sentencing court will not have the authority to impose a lesser sentence or to place the offender on probation or to grant a suspended sentence. They are not, however, prohibited from imposing a greater sentence.The language also 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.

Better enforcement of our gun laws leads to a reduction in gun-related offenses, as we can see from the NYC example. I urge you to join me in co-sponsoring this important public safety measure that will adequately punish illegal gun carriers and deter future offenses.

Co-sponsorship of Legislation

 

From: Representative John Taylor
To: All House Members
Subject: Mandatory Minimum, Carrying of Illegal Firearms in Philadelphia

 

I am planning to introduce legislation in the near future which will amend Section 6108 of the Crimes Code (Title 18), which prohibits the carrying of firearms on public streets or public property in Philadelphia by any person who is not licensed or authorized to do so. The current penalty for a violation of this section is a 1st degree misdemeanor.

My bill will establish a new mandatory minimum sentence of two years for any person who possesses a firearm in violation of Section 6108 and is not the lawful owner of that firearm.  The offense will be graded as a 3rd degree felony, and a person convicted under this section will not be eligible for parole, probation, work release or furlough.

This measure was drafted in conjunction with the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office, and is similar to an initiative instituted in New York City in 2005.  My intent in offering this proposal is to replicate, in Philadelphia, the same level of success achieved in New York, where violent crime has been reduced overall and shootings have fallen to the lowest levels in nearly two decades.

Please join me in sponsoring this common sense measure to help reduce the number of illegal guns on our streets.