Illegal possession of a handgun in Baltimore could soon come with one year mandatory prison sentence

BALTIMORE - A resolution about to come up before the Baltimore City Council stiffens the punishment for anyone caught illegally possessing a handgun.

ABC2 News Investigative Reporter Brian Kuebler obtained a draft copy of the bill Thursday afternoon. The bill creates a one year mandatory prison sentence and fine of $1,000 for illegal possession of a handgun within 100 yards of a park, church, school, public building or other public gathering place.

The bill goes further, preventing the courts from suspending any part of the prison sentence and making the violator ineligible for parole or probation before judgment.

ABC2 News has learned Council President Jack Young is scheduled to introduce the administrative bill during Monday night's city council meeting and then refer it to the judiciary committee.

Chairman of the Judiciary Committee, Eric Costello (D-District 11) says he will suspend council rules to call a hearing of his committee on Tuesday morning.

"This is the most urgent matter the city is facing and we all need to be focused on this issue," Costello told ABC2 News after it broke the story Thursday afternoon.

The proposed ordinance is similar to what Mayor Catherine Pugh and Commissioner Kevin Davis have talked about over the last few weeks. Davis has even made his case before the General Assembly the last two years in hopes of making the stiffer penalty a statewide law.

The resolution does include exceptions covered under Section 4-203(b) of Maryland State Law; examples of which are transporting a firearm from the legal place of purchase to the owner's home or from the legal owner's home to a shooting range.

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