Mayor Ballard supports tougher sentences in gun crimes

Published: .
Updated: .

Mayor Greg Ballard is turning to lawmakers to help combat a surge in violence in Indianapolis. Indianapolis is on a record pace for homicides in 2014, with 27 already this year.

The mayor testified before a House committee pushing for stricter sentences for gun crimes.

Mayor Ballard is pushing for mandatory minimum prison sentences for using a gun during a crime. In short, he and IMPD are tired of putting people away only to see them out and committing another crime a few years later.

IMPD Officer Rod Bradway was shot and killed September 20th of last year as he answered a distress call. His death prompted one lawmaker to connect the dots.

"A felon doesn't have a gun.  It's the guy who gave or sold the gun to him," State Senator Mike Young (R-Indianapolis) said Monday before a House Committee.

Sen. Young wants to penalize those who supply a gun to a convicted felon.

Now that the city is on record pace for homicides for the third consecutive year, Mayor Ballard showed up to testify in favor of mandatory minimum prison sentences for criminals who use a gun in the commission of a crime. He says current penalties for using a gun are just the cost of doing business for criminals and that has to change.

"Criminals who brandish a gun during their crime do so to instill fear in their victims and it is time for our laws to instill fear in them.  If you use a gun during the commission of a crime in Indiana, you should spend at least a generation behind bars," Mayor Ballard testified.

The mayor referred to the Black Expo shootings three years ago when nine people were shot by a gunman who only served two years and eight months out of an eight-year sentence. And he referenced a north side home invasion last fall where the main suspect only served two years of a 16-year prison sentence.

In the last two years, Mayor Ballard testified, 80 percent of the homicides committed in Indianapolis were committed with a gun.

In the last year, he said 75 percent of homicide suspects and 75 percent of homicide victims had prior records. More than half of the non-fatal shooting victims refused to cooperate with police.

"Maybe if they knew the person who shot them would go away for decades or they might go to prison for decades if they retaliated, they would think differently and work with us to stop the violence," Ballard added.

The House Committee on Courts and Criminal Code passed out an amended bill which will now go to the full House.