Pa. considers 5-year minimum sentence for convicted felons carrying guns

Philadelphia area lawmakers and law enforcement agencies are pushing legislation that would require a five-year minimum sentence for convicted felons caught with a gun.  Pennsylvania lawmakers held a hearing this week in Montgomery Township on the bill that’s awaiting a vote in the state Senate.

Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams supports the legislation.  “This would allow us to have a mandatory minimum of five years of incarceration for felons that have prior convictions for crimes of violence,” he said. “I think that’s very very appropriate.”Williams acknowledges the cost of imprisonment.

“People that are walking the streets, that are convicted felons, that unlawfully possess firearms, those are the very people that we need to have in prison,” he said. “And they’re carrying those guns for no good purpose at all.  The only intention is to rob people at gunpoint or shoot people or to kill people.”State Rep. Todd Stephens, R-Montgomery, said it’s not just a Philadelphia problem.”I was a prosecutor in Montgomery County for 10 years and in Norristown, in Pottstown, it’s routine to find folks with criminal histories illegally carrying guns,” he said.

Stephens said it’s time for lawmakers to enact serious penalties to address gun violence.

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

It will take 126,000 members this year for great news and programs to thrive. Help us get to 100% of the goal.