As Pa. legislative session ebbs, tougher penalty for illegal guns in Philly awaits action

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(Photo via ShutterStock)

Time is running out on measure that would impose harsher penalties for those caught illegally carrying a gun in Philadelphia.


House Bill 1091, introduced in early April, would make carrying a gun that isn’t yours and without a permit a third-degree felony. It’s currently a misdemeanor.

If convicted, offenders would serve a mandatory minimum of two years in prison with no possibility of parole or probation.

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“If you don’t have a gun you can’t use it,” said state Rep. John Taylor, D-Philadelphia, who introduced the bill. “That’s the emphasis that the district attorneys have placed on this situation – that we will actually dissuade people from possessing these weapons, carrying these weapons and, as a result, more people will stay alive in Philadelphia.”

The legislation was crafted in conjunction with Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams. Like Taylor, he hopes the bill can make it out of the Senate before lawmakers break until 2015. It was sent there Tuesday.

“It is the criminals who carry guns illegally who are responsible for the tragic losses of too many Philadelphians,” said Williams in a statement this week after the bill passed the House.

The measure faces hurdles, especially time. There are only a few sessions left before this year’s term is over.

The Senate, where the bill is expected to face harsher scrutiny, has its last session scheduled for Nov. 12. The House has its final session scheduled for the same day.

Taylor said he would reintroduce the bill in 2015 if it doesn’t make it back to the House before this year’s session is up.

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