Baltimore City Council to consider minimum 1 year sentence for illegal handguns

New proposal expected to be introduced Monday

BALTIMORE - Monday, Baltimore City Council will take up a new bill forcing jail time for many caught with an illegal firearm, according to Councilman Eric Costello.

"We need to do something and this is a great step in the right direction," he said.

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. It does not give the option of parole or probation before judgment.

"Public safety is the number one priority in the city right now," Costello said.

RELATED: Illegal possession of a handgun in Baltimore could soon come with a 1 year mandatory prison sentence

City leaders and police have been frustrated with increasing levels of violent crime and repeat offenders avoiding jail time. This year, 60 percent of guilty verdicts in gun crimes have ended with a suspended sentence, according to data compiled by city police.

The new bill was written by Mayor Pugh's office, according to Costello. Earlier this week, she spoke about working with the State to get more resources to fight crime in Baltimore.

"This is not about new gun laws. This is about illegal guns that are on the street," Pugh said on Monday. "We're not trying to expand gun laws in Baltimore, we're trying to get illegal guns off the street."

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.

Costello says the bill will be brought up in an emergency budget hearing Tuesday morning after it's introduction.

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