Baltimore City Council Deeply Divided Over Mandatory Sentence for Gun Possession

The City Council is deeply divided over a proposal to impose a mandatory one-year sentence for carrying a handgun in much of Baltimore.

The council held an impromptu, 45-minute debate on the idea Monday afternoon before the legislation was even introduced Monday night. Seven members of the 15-member body say they’ll support the measure, while four oppose it. The remaining four say they’re maybes.

Council leaders say the ordinance is a necessary step toward getting rising levels of violence under control in Baltimore by ensuring that people caught with a gun get time behind bars. Council President Bernard C. “Jack” Young urged his colleagues to support the measure during a working lunch that turned into a lengthy back and forth on the bill.

“The criminals are running this city,” Young said. “We’re not running it, they are. And if we want to do a first step, it is this bill right here.”