HARRISBURG—Rep. Todd Stephens (R-Montgomery) is introducing a package of bills targeting violent criminals who use firearms.
“What we’ve witnessed last week in Philadelphia is the terror and tragedy that comes when violent criminals are treated too leniently,” Stephens said. “It we want to get serious about violent crimes we need tougher sentences for violent offenders.”
Stephens will soon introduce a three-bill package of reforms to deal with violent criminals who endanger our families.
Last week, convicted felon Maurice Hill, who has been convicted six times, was arrested and charged for attempted murder in the shooting of six Philadelphia police officers. “He clearly illustrates the need for tougher sentences for violent criminals,” said Stephens.
The first bill would reinstate Pennsylvania’s mandatory minimum sentences for violent offenders. This bill has passed the House in previous sessions.
Several years ago, Pennsylvania’s mandatory minimum sentences were invalidated on procedural grounds by the United States and Pennsylvania Supreme courts. This bill will provide the constitutional procedures the courts found lacking in our statutes.
Specifically, this legislation would reinstate mandatory sentences for offenses committed with firearms, for certain drug offenses committed with firearms, for offenses committed on public transportation, for offenses against the elderly persons and infants and for offenses committed while impersonating a law enforcement officer.
“Mandatory sentences ensure that people committing these serious crimes will be held accountable for their actions and take violent offenders off of our streets,” Stephens said.
The second bill combats gun violence committed by those already prohibited from possessing firearms. A similar bill passed the House in a previous term.
“If we want to get serious about getting illegal guns off our streets, we must get serious with the penalties we impose for felons who illegally possess firearms,” Stephens said. “Tougher penalties will deter felons from illegally possessing firearms as well as provide our prosecutors with tools to combat the straw purchasers who illegally provide these firearms.”
Currently, there are no mandatory minimum sentence for felons who illegally possess firearms. Stephens’ bill would impose a five-year mandatory minimum sentence.
“My legislation would also designate the crime of a felon illegally possessing a firearm as a ‘crime of violence’ triggering our second-strike and third-strike provisions with a 10-year and 25-year mandatory sentence provisions for repeat offenders,” added Stephens.
The third bill would ensure violent criminals receive separate sentences for each victim they targeted.
“Current law diminishes the value of crime victims by allowing judges to permit violent criminals to serve their sentences concurrently,” Stephens said. “My bill requires judges to impose consecutive sentences for each victim of a violent crime.”
Representative Todd Stephens
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Media Contact: David Foster