Bill toughens penalties on Firearm crimes
Oakland County Sheriff Mike Bouchard discusses proposed legislation that would enhance penalties for the possession and/or use of a firearm in the commission of a felony. (Vaughn Gurganian/For the Daily Tribune)
PONTIAC — Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard announced new legislation Thursday targeting criminals who possess or use firearms in the commission of a felony.Bouchard was joined by the bill’s author, state Sen. Rick Jones, R-Grand Ledge, and Detroit Police Chief Ralph Godbee. He said possession or use of a firearm in the commission of a felony currently carries a two-year prison sentence in Michigan, a term usually served concurrently with other sentences.
State Rep. Kurt Heise, R-Plymouth, plans to introduce the bill in the state House.Jones said the bill, which is still being drafted, would require an automatic 10-year consecutive prison sentence for a person who uses a gun during a crime.
The bill would require a prison sentence of 25 years to life if a person is harmed or killed with a gun during the commission of a crime.
Jones, who worked at the Eaton County Sheriff’s Department for 31 years, said, “If you bring a gun to your crime, you’re doing hard time.
”Bouchard said, “There’s really not much in terms of punishment or a disincentive to use a firearm in the commission of a felony in our state, in my opinion.”In an apparent reference to the May 13 shooting at Porky’s Bikini Bar that left two dead, Bouchard said the Sheriff’s Office had recently arrested an individual in a Pontiac homicide who had a history of gun crimes. The person “had been in prison for three years, and had used a firearm and had shot another person in the face. They were already back out on the street ... people that are willing to use a weapon often repeat.
”Detroit Police Chief Godbee said, “You have to have a very targeted approach toward the most violent of the violent offenders. The societal cost is tremendous ... a homicide costs about $5 million.
”The Rev. Douglas Jones of Pontiac’s Welcome Missionary Baptist Church told the audience at the Oakland County Sheriff’s Office headquarters, “It’s important that we don’t slap people on the wrists anymore.”Jones and clergy members from 11 other Pontiac churches have announced their support of the legislation.