That's the headline of this entertaining and right-on-target article from Michael Coard at The Philly Post, and it offers a sound pistol-whipping of mandatory minimum sentences for illegal possession of guns.
Mere unlawful possession, you’d argue, is enough to warrant mandatory imprisonment. No probation. No fine. No community service. No parole without a required minimum jail sentence. Good, you say. Bullshit, I say.
Mandatory imprisonment for any non-violent crime, including simple firearm possession, is wrong. Pennsylvania crime code section 6106 is titled “Firearms Not to Be Carried Without a License” and involves having a gun in a car or concealed outside one’s residence or place of employment anywhere in the Commonwealth. If an offender has no license to carry and isn’t eligible for such, it’s a third degree felony, which means he or she could face up to seven years in jail plus a $15,000 fine. Section 6108 is titled “Carrying Firearms on Public Streets or Public Property in Philadelphia” and involves possessing a gun without a license anywhere in the county. It’s a first degree misdemeanor, which means an offender could face up to five years in jail plus a $10,000 fine.
Neither crime requires a mandatory jail sentence, and that’s a good thing. In other words, a judge could, should, and often does simply impose a probationary sentence, a fine, court costs, and a supervision fee. And the reasoning is simple. No one was shot. No one was shot at. No one was injured. No one was threatened. The defendant did nothing more than possess a gun illegally. And as every reasonable person agrees, punishment should always fit the crime and the criminal. ...
To those who dismiss my assertions as the mere rantings of a bleeding-heart liberal, a criminal-coddling, soft-on-crime, fancy-pants defense lawyer, I say there’s nothing fancy about my pants.Huzzah! If you think the arguments against mandatory minimums are boring, read the entire article. It's fun stuff, it's completely right, and you don't have to be a sentencing nerd to get it.