Last year, State Rep. Todd Stephens (R-151st District) introduced House Bill 1498, which is now awaiting third consideration and final passage. If passed, the legislation “would expand the list of gun crimes eligible for mandatory minimum prison sentences, including establishing a five-year mandatory minimum penalty for the illegal possession of firearms by those individuals prohibited from doing so by virtue of certain prior convictions as mandated by existing state law.”
Supporters of the measure include Montgomery County District Attorney Risa Vetri Ferman and Shira Goodman, CeaseFirePennsylvania’s executive director.
“(Mandatory minimums) bring consistency (to sentencing),” Ferman says. “Similar crimes should be treated similarly, and I think with this we get fairness and a stronger measure of justice. There are individuals who disagree entirely with mandatory sentences. I respectfully disagree. They are an important part of our criminal justice system.”
Goodman adds, “We think we should be working with law-abiding gun owners on this. We hope that tougher sentences will change behavior and attitudes. People need to see that it doesn’t make sense for them, and that they’re not gonna get off with just a slap on the wrist.”