Joint Press Release:
Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott and Columbia Police Chief Skip Holbrook announce their support for bipartisan legislation introduced by State Reps. Seth Rose, D-Columbia; Kirkman Finlay, R-Columbia; and Ivory Thigpen, D-Columbia; that calls for graduated penalties for convicted criminals who unlawfully carry firearms.
The bill, H.4087, amends existing state law to bar criminals from possessing a firearm, if they have been convicted of crimes that call for more than one year of prison time. Current law only prohibits those who have been convicted of a violent crime.
“Every day, law enforcement officers in this state repeatedly arrest criminals who illegally carry guns, and the penalty amounts to a slap on the wrist,” Sheriff Lott said. “This bipartisan proposal would not only make our communities safer, it will make those who continually break the law reconsider their actions in the face of increased prison time.”
“The men and women of the Columbia Police Department are working tirelessly to reduce gun violence in the City, but law enforcement is only part of the solution,” Chief Holbrook added. “I have seen repeated acts of disproportionate gun violence plaguing our community. There’s a time for action and that time is right now.”
Further, the bill creates graduated penalties for those who violate the proposed law, by increasing the prison time violators will face; while a first-time offender would face a misdemeanor charge, repeat violators would face felony charges.
“This bipartisan legislation will give law enforcement the tools they are requesting to help curb gun violence in South Carolina,” said Rep. Seth Rose.
“Current law has not been enough of a deterrent to stop these criminals from repeatedly breaking the law,” Rep. Finlay added. “Those who keep breaking our laws need to know that they will face tougher penalties after each offense. The days of treating state law like it’s just a time out must come to an end.”
“As a legislator, I am thankful for the leadership being shown by the Columbia Police Department and the Richland County Sheriff’s Department to make our communities safer,” said Rep. Thigpen.
- Extends existing law to those who have been convicted of a crime that is punishable by more than one year in prison.
- Once enacted, a person convicted of breaking the law would be charged with a misdemeanor for a first offense and must be imprisoned for no more than three years.
- An offender convicted of the same charge a second time would be charged with a felony and face up to 10 years in prison.
- An offender convicted of the same charge a third time would be charged with a felony and up to 15 years in prison.
- The bill would mimic federal law in its creation of graduated penalties for repeat offenders.