Baltimore gives initial nod to proposed mandatory minimums for illegal guns
By Chris Eger
Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh and some city leaders are backing a measure to establish a mandatory minimum sentence for those found with handguns near Baltimore schools, parks and other public buildings. (Photo: mayor.baltimorecity.gov)
The City Council gave narrow preliminary approval to a proposed ordinance designed to bring strict sentencing for some found with guns.
The proposal passed the 15-member council by one vote while dozens gathered outside City Hall to protest the controversial measure, which is billed as a partial cure for Baltimore’s climbing murder rate.
Councilman John Bullock cast the deciding vote saying that illegal guns were “inherently tools of violence that result in the loss of life,” the Baltimore Sun reported.
The measure originally aimed to criminalize the carry or transport of a handgun, either openly or concealed, within 100 yards of a public building, park, church, school, or “other place of public assembly” with a mandatory penalty of one-year imprisonment and a $1,000 fine.
However, as modified last month in committee, first-time offenders would not be eligible for the mandatory sentence except in cases where the illegal handgun they possessed was used in a crime. Also, the state’s attorney’s office could use discretion in charging individuals with violations of the city ordinance