Stephens Bill to Increase Penalties for Gun Crime Passes House
HARRISBURG--Legislation sponsored by Rep. Todd Stephens (R-Montgomery) to increase the penalties for felons who illegally possess guns was approved by the House of Representatives 184 to 11.

Under state and federal law, people convicted of felonies are not permitted to possess a firearm. Sentencing data shows 21 percent of felons who are convicted of illegally carrying a loaded gun receive probation or less than one year in jail.House Bill 1498 amends the state’s mandatory minimum sentencing provisions so a felon faces a five-year sentence without parole for illegally possessing a gun.

“Unfortunately, the numbers show we need this legislation to ensure these repeat criminals receive the punishment they deserve,” Stephens said.

Sentencing data also shows 56.4 percent of those sentenced for illegally possessing a firearm are rearrested for a new crime within three years of completing their sentence. House Bill 1498 would also define the crime as a “crime of violence,” triggering Pennsylvania’s Three Strikes Law that requires a 10-year sentences for a second offense and 25 years for a third offense.

“This legislation targets our most violent offenders who, by the nature of their repeated crimes, have shown little hope for rehabilitation,” Stephens said. “These are the people for which our prisons are made.”

The bill now moves to the state Senate for a vote.

Statewide law enforcement agencies, including the Fraternal Order of Police and the Pennsylvania District Attorneys Association, support the bill.

“I am hopeful the Senate will act quickly to pass the legislation,” Stephens said.

Representative Todd Stephens
151st District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives

Media Contact: David Foster
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