California Democratic lawmakers look to remove penalty for possessing firearm during crime

California State Assembly
“California state capitol building interior, State Assembly room.”

(FOX NEWS) – Reform-minded activists in California vow to move forward after a bill that would have dramatically reduced, and in some cases eliminated, enhanced sentences for crimes committed while using a gun failed to advance through the legislature Thursday.

“AB 1509 was held in the Appropriations committee and will not move forward this year,” Greg Fidell, policy manager of Initiate Justice, wrote on Twitter. “This is very painful – but we will be back stronger next year.”

The state lawmakers who backed the Anti-Racism Sentencing Reform Act claim the existing law, which allows prosecutors to seek additional time behind bars, is racist — 89% of the roughly 40,000 inmates serving gun enhancement sentences in California are people of color, according to figures from Restore Justice.


In California, the penalty for possessing a firearm while committing serious crimes, like robbery and attempted murder, means an additional 10-year term on top of the sentence for the underlying crime. Shooting a gun during the commission of the crime can add 20 years, wounding someone can add an additional 25 years to life sentence.

The California bill would have reduced those terms to one, two or a maximum of three years and repealed any gun enhancement for some lesser crimes.

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