Mandatory Prison For Gun Crimes? NRA Says No
Next week, Illinois lawmakers could consider mandatory prison sentences for people charged with illegal gun possession. Supporters say it would help reduce violent crime in places like Chicago and East St. Louis. But a prominent gun-rights group is opposed to the change.
In places where shootings are a big problem, some politicians and prosecutors want a three-year minimum sentence for gun crimes.
But the National Rifle Association worries lawful gun owners could be caught up under the proposal.
NRA lobbyist Todd Vandermyde recalled the 1994 arrest of former Bulls player Scottie Pippen. Police were trying to tow his car and said they found a loaded handgun.
"The question you have to go back to: Are people like Scottie Pippen the kind of people we want to be putting in jail for three years? And it's the first-time offender issue that they still haven't got their head wrapped around."
The NRA says it would back the proposal if it only applied to people with previous felony convictions.
Supporters of minimum sentences point to statistics (pdf) from Chicago that show seven percent of the people who got probation for a gun crime in 2011 were re-arrested for a violent crime within a year.