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House passes bill imposing stiffer penalties on criminals carrying guns

House lawmakers approved another bill on Thursday stiffening mandatory minimum sentences for individuals prohibited from owning guns.

A person previously convicted of a violent felony found in possession of a gun could face a minimum of three, five or 10 years depending on their criminal record.

It’s one of the few Republican-backed, gun-related proposals to make it to the full floor. It’s primary sponsor is Rep. Ruth Briggs-King (R-Georgetown).

“From the start of this session, I have been working for increased penalties for firearms violations. I have been saying all along that if we want to make an impact on Delaware’s crime rate, House Bill 36 is a very good start,” said Briggs-King in a statement. “By passing this legislation, we are sending a strong message to the criminal that they will, without question, face stiff jail time if they use a gun.”

The bill has the support of Delaware’s Attorney General Beau Biden (D).

“This legislation will help prevent violent crime by imposing significantly longer prison sentences on criminal who are prohibited from possessing weapons but who continue to carry them anyway,” said Biden in a statement.

A similar proposal from Rep. John Mitchell (D-Elsmere) passed earlier this week. That measure targets individuals who committed violent crimes as juveniles.

The bill now has just four legislative days to make it through the Senate and secure Governor Jack Markell’s (D) signature before becoming law.