New plan promises harsher penalties for people caught with illegal firearms - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

New plan promises harsher penalties for people caught with illegal firearms

A plan announced Friday at the Shelby County Criminal Justice Center will bring harsher penalties to people carrying illegal guns, even before they graduate on to more serious crimes.  Authorities plan to get tough when it comes to misdemeanor possession of illegal guns.
"The main thing we are trying to do is change behavior to send a clear signal: the illegally toting a gun in this community is not acceptable," said District Attorney General Bill Gibbons.

The key to this plan is a "gun court" that will be handled in Judge Louis Montesi's courtroom. Montesi says assigning gun cases to a single division will allow the court to focus on the cases in a consistent manner.    All gun cases will be placed on a special gun docket.

Gibbons said police will now arrest people who have illegal guns, instead of giving them a citation, which is typically what happened in the past.. Gibbons said offenders will now have a better chance of spending time in jail.  The idea is to get to the offenders early, before a crime is committed.

"These are individuals who are headed down the wrong path and what we need to do is a better job of addressing that before it gets out of hand," Gibbons said.

Mayor A C Wharton added if citizens knew how many illegal guns are on the streets in Shelby County, they wouldn't be able to sleep.

The plan revealed Friday calls for law enforcement officers to make physical arrests on misdemeanor gun charges as often as possible. The DA's office will recommend the suspects be prohibited from having firearms while out on bond.  Automatic standard bonds will be eliminated, and each case will be evaluated individually to decide bond.

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