Mayor Ballard urges tougher gun crime penalties

Bill would allow extra 10-20 years of prison

INDIANAPOLIS - Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard wants state lawmakers to help the city crack down on crime during what he referred to as a challenging time for the city.

Ballard is urging lawmakers to stiffen the penalties for people who use guns while committing a crime. He said longer prison sentences are one way to fight the violence.

"We are taking a multi-faceted approach to addressing the root causes of this violence -- truancy and re-entry, education and job training, and helping parents and strengthening our community partnerships. Everyone has a role. We are asking you to join this fight,” Ballard said.

Ballard urged a House committee to approve a bill that toughens the punishment for people who knowingly provide guns to felons or others who they know intend to use the firearm to commit a crime.

"Too many times, people who have already committed violent gun crimes are being released after serving a fraction of their prison sentence, then they go on to commit other crimes. This has to stop," Ballard said.

Ballard referenced the suspects involved in a violent home break-in last fall. He said at least one suspect was released from prison early.

"You have a neighbor who's a single woman who lives by herself. She's terrified of these home invasions. But, she says 'I can't buy a gun, because 20 years ago I got a shoplifting conviction.’ Under the State of Indiana, they're all felonies," Larry Landis with the Indiana Public Defender Council said.

"Criminals use a gun to commit a crime to instill fear in their victims. It's time for our laws to instill similar fear in them," Ballard said.

One of the sponsors of the bill said he brought the measure forward after the death of Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department Officer Rod Bradway. Bradway was shot by a felon while trying to rescue a woman last fall.

The measure will head to the full House for consideration.

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