The District of Columbia Council, in an emergency action aimed at drug-related violence, voted Tuesday to require that people convicted of using guns in committing crimes must be sentenced to five years in prison.
It also approved a bill, intended to improve the district’s before-trial detention program, to allow judges to refuse bond for suspects in violent crimes even if they have no criminal record.
“This is an emergency bill and requires a lot of debate, but these are emergency times,” council member James Nathanson said.
The emergency measure, to remain in effect for 90 days before a review, came as the city sought to slow the pace of drug-related killings. Police say that about 60% of last year’s record 372 homicides were drug-related. So far this year, 98 people have been slain in the district, 43 more than during the equivalent period of 1988.
The legislation also attempts to stem the flow of illegally purchased weapons. According to police statistics, 3,863 such weapons were seized on district streets during 1988, compared with 2,225 the year before.