Ballard, Curry split on gun-violence bill

Amid a wave of violent crime and homicides, Mayor Greg Ballard and Public Safety Director Troy Riggs are lobbying for stiff, mandatory sentences for gun-related crimes.

The Senate Corrections and Criminal Law Committee on Jan. 21 heard a bill from Indianapolis Republican Sen. Jim Merritt that would create a 20-year mandatory minimum sentence for crimes committed with a firearm.

“We have seen too many instances when convicted, violent felons have returned to the street only to commit a more serious violent crime,” said Mayor Greg Ballard. “I appreciate Sen. Merritt supporting legislation that will send a strong message to criminals that any crime committed with a gun will put you in prison for a very long time.”

Marion County Prosecutor Terry Curry said he opposes mandatory sentencing because the penalties don’t always line up with the facts of a given case. He said his office already seeks sentence enhancements on a regular basis. Curry, a Democrat, is up for re-election this year.

Indiana law makes it a Class B felony for a serious violent felon to possess a gun. The law also allows judges to tack on five years for use of a firearm in connection with a death, serious bodily injury, kidnapping or confinement.

Merritt’s bill would add five years for using a gun to commit burglary and other felonies. Riggs testified on behalf of the bill, but the Senate committee did not take a vote on Jan. 21.

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