Pennsylvania bills toughen penalties when guns used in violent crimes


One of three bills reinstates Pennsylvania's mandatory minimum sentences for violent offenders

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – A package of bills will soon be introduced at the Pennsylvania State Capitol, aimed at targeting violent criminals who use guns. It comes after last week’s shooting of six Philadelphia police officers. The suspect was a convicted criminal.

“Gun violence is a problem all across this commonwealth. So, doing nothing is not an option. We must act,” said Rep. Todd Stephens.

That action, by Stephens, included the announcement of three bills this week targeting violent criminals using guns.

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The first reinstates Pennsylvania’s mandatory minimum sentences for violent offenders. The second imposes a five-year mandatory minimum sentence for people convicted of gun violence who are already prohibited from possessing guns.

“It also defines that crime as a crime of violence, which triggers our second and third strikes provisions, which carry a 10-year mandatory minimum and 25-year mandatory minimum prison sentence for repeat violent offenders,” Stephens said.

The final bill would require separate, consecutive sentences for each victim those criminals target.

“Which is consistent with our homicide by vehicle laws,” Stephens said.

Two of the three bills have passed the state house in previous sessions, and Stephens believes now is the time to get them to the governor’s desk.

“They received very strong bipartisan support. So, I think that they’re certainly worth a closer look, particularly in light of recent events,” he said.

Stephens plans to officially introduce these bills when lawmakers return to the capitol in the fall.

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