Crimes involving weapons are a hot-button issue in Texas. While many want to reduce the number of violent crimes involving firearms, there is disagreement on how this goal can be achieved. One bill working its way through the Texas legislature attempts to address this problem, but not everyone approves of it.
Senate Bill 23
Senate Bill 23 would institute a mandatory 10-year prison sentence for those who utilize a firearm in the commission of a felony. Judges would not be permitted to sentence those who use a firearm in the commission of a felony to community supervision or parole instead of the mandatory 10-year prison term.
Not all support Senate Bill 23
Supporters of Senate Bill 23 believe it will reduce violent crime in Texas by imposing stricter penalties on those who use a firearm in the commission of a felony. This would not only keep dangerous offenders off the streets, but it would also serve as a deterrent to those who would consider committing a crime involving a firearm.
However, not all support Senate Bill 23. Some state that the bill will only add to the state’s overcrowded jails and would not have any significant impact on violent crime in Texas.
Also, research on the decades-long passing of “tough on crime” laws across the nation has suggested they do little to prevent acts of violence, and many states have since enacted legislation removing mandatory sentencing for nonviolent crimes.
In addition, some believe SB23 could potentially penalize those who legally own and use firearms, for example, those who use a firearm in self-defense.
Ultimately, while longer prison sentences may look good politically, some believe they might not have the positive effect on society they purport to have. Moreover, those who serve long prison sentences have a harder time finding work and housing upon release and may have lost child custody rights as well as other rights. Whether SB 23 will pass into law is not yet known, and it has its supporters, but some believe it is not the way to address the issue of violent crimes in Texas.