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California Legislature

Senate supports loosening sentencing mandate for gun crimes

A cache of seized weapons displayed at a news conference in Phoenix. (Matt York / Associated Press)
A cache of seized weapons displayed at a news conference in Phoenix. (Matt York / Associated Press)

The state Senate approved a measure Thursday that could loosen sentencing for gun crimes.

Current law says anyone who uses a gun in committing a felony must have their sentence increased by 10 years or more in prison on top of the penalty for the felony. The proposal is to lift that mandate.

Sen. Steven Bradford (D-Gardena) said he introduced the bill after a 17-year-old riding in a car involved in a drive-by shooting was sentenced to 25 years in prison even though he denied shooting the gun.

The judge said his hands were tied and he had to impose the longer sentence, Bradford said, and he wants to give judges the power to decide if cases require an enhanced sentence.

Sen. Holly Mitchell (D-Los Angeles) supported the measure, saying judges “will be empowered to make their decision on a case-by-case basis.”

It passed 22-14 with all of the support from Democrats. Republicans and a few Democrats opposed the bill or withheld their votes. SB 620 next goes to the Assembly for consideration.

State Sen. Joel Anderson (R-San Diego) said the Legislature would be soft on crime if it passes such a law. “Our constituents deserve better from us than encouraging people to use guns in the commission of a crime,” he said.

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