In Philadelphia with so much gun violence I recently spoke with a legal and registered gun owner in the city. Kareem Benson 40 is a married father and grandfather also lifelong resident of Philadelphia. We spoke at length about the reasons he decided to get a gun permit and if that makes him feel safer. When speaking with Kareem I asked how long that he has had a permit to carry a handgun. Kareem replied “I first got my permit to carry in 1997 and have kept renewing ever since” I asked Kareem if he thought that the state’s current gun laws are good enough. Kareem stated “ I do not, this state would benefit greatly from tougher gun laws”. Most people in this city would not have any idea what the current state gun laws are. I myself would be included as I did not know what the gun laws for the state of Pennsylvania are. A portion of the law states :
Any person who carries a firearm in any vehicle or any person who carries a firearm concealed on or about his person, except in his place of abode or fixed place of business, without a valid and lawfully issued license under this chapter commits a felony of the third degree. (18 Pa.C.S. § 6106: Firearms not to be carried without a license)
I think what is important about that law is that a third degree felony convictions have a wide range of jail time (between 2-10 years) I think that for firearm charges to be an effective deterrent mandatory sentences should be used. Asked whether he agreed with that assessment registered gun owner Kareem Benson stated “ I agree, I would like to see mandatory harsh sentencing guidelines especially when the weapon is used in a commission of a crime” If there was a mandatory 5 year sentence for possessing a firearm illegally and mandatory 10 year sentence if the gun is used in a crime I don’t believe you would see so many guns on the street. I am not naïve enough to think these laws in themselves will stop the gun violence however, I do believe that we would see a marked change. I asked Kareem what he thinks is needed to try to curb this epidemic and he stated “In addition to the laws politicians and citizens alike have to force a change” Lastly I went back to one of my initial questions that If Kareem felt safer walking around with a handgun that he is licensed to carry? His reply “I am not sure about safer but I do think it evens the playing field if I have to defend myself or my family”
Please post your thoughts on more stricter gun laws and if you would support mandatory sentences for gun offenses.