Governor Barbour Announces Anti-Crime Bills
From: Office of the Governor Filed 1/12/07
Flanked by legislators, prosecutors and law enforcement officers, Governor
Haley Barbour Thursday endorsed two bills designed to toughen penalties
against felons having guns or using them in commission of a crime.
Senate Bill 2470 increases the statutory maximum penalty to up to 10 years
for previously convicted felons found in possession of a firearm. The
current statutory maximum sentence is up to three years. The Senate
sponsor of the bill is Sen. Ed Morgan, R-Hattiesburg, and the House
sponsor is Rep. Jeff Smith, D-Columbus, chairman of the House Judiciary B
Senate Bill 2459 increases statutory penalty to 10 years for previously
convicted felon who uses a firearm during the commission of any felony.
The 10 year sentence must be consecutive to the underlying felony and can
not be reduced or suspended Current statutory sentence for either
convicted felon or first offender is five years. The Senate sponsor is
Sen. Perry Lee, R-Mendenhall, and the House sponsor is Chairman Smith.
"I am pleased to join with these distinguished legislators, prosecutors
and law enforcement in efforts to curb violent crime and protect public
safety. These are aggressive, necessary steps and I look forward to the
day when I can sign these new tools into law," Governor Barbour said.
Increasing the statutory maximum for convicted felons carrying a firearm
and using a firearm will give Mississippi prosecutors and law enforcement
the tools to efficiently put some of our most dangerous criminals behind
bars, Governor Barbour said at a Capitol press conference. He noted that
persons with a prior conviction commit a majority of the violent crimes in
America, according to a 2006 study by the U.S. Department of Justice
showing that 56 percent of the violent felons convicted in the nation's 75
most populous counties from 1990 through 2002 had a prior conviction
"All across our state, judicial dockets are overloaded and our prosecutors
and law enforcement agents are overworked," Governor Barbour said. He said
prosecuting convicted felons for carrying firearms requires less law
enforcement and judicial resources than prosecuting complex drug or
violent crime cases.
To convict a felon of possessing a firearm, a prosecutor only has to prove
two things: (1) person was previously convicted for a felony; (2) person
had a gun.