Ballard seeks new deterrent for criminals with guns

(WISH Photo)

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard believes that longer prison sentences could lead to fewer murders in Indianapolis.

Right now, if you commit a crime with a gun in Indiana, a judge can tack on an additional five years to your prison sentence. Ballard wants the extra time to be as much as 20 years.

Gun violence is commonplace in Indianapolis. The eight murders in a 15 hour span last week highlight a problem that is ongoing. It has the police chief trying to warn potential criminals of the consequences.

“Gun crime will lead to jail,” said Chief Rick Hite last Friday, “or in some cases you will lose your life.”

And now the mayor wants help in spreading that message.

“If you’re going in to rob a drug store or if you’re going in to rob a home and you have a gun,” Mayor Ballard said, “I want the additional penalty.”

The additional penalty of five to 20 years in prison for a gun crime was approved in an Indiana House committee. It’s a way to combat fear.

“There is no reason in the world why we should have constituents,” said Sen. Jim Merritt (R-Indianapolis), “who are scared to be at home during the day.”

But the mayor also believes that there is a need to get tough on crime in new ways.

“For criminals, current penalties for using a gun are just a cost of doing business,” he said. “They are not a punishment and they are not a deterrent.”

There are other deterrents required. One committee member suggested hiring more police officers.

Nevertheless, the committee vote was 8-1 to send the bill to the full House.

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