Letter: MA's mandatory sentence for illegal gun possession intended only to appease voters

We don't have enough jails

Editor's note: The following letter  was received in response to Dick Fulcher's 12/22/12 letter, "Passing gun laws is one thing--enforcing them is quite another".

To the Editor:

The answer to the question: Why don't people illegally in possession of a hand gun ever serve the year in jail is actually very simple. We don't have enough jails. It is my understanding that Massachusetts jails are now at 144% of capacity. If every person caught illegally with a  hand gun was sent to jail for a year that number would balloon significantly.  Our choices then would be to either let people who committed other crimes out of jail, or build many more  jails.

Like many laws created by our elected officials in response to public outcry or opinion the actual consequences of the law prohibit its  implementation.  This is why I suspect that a new federal ban on any firearms will only apply to new sales of firearms. Actual confiscation of the 300 million legal firearms in the United States would be cost prohibitive.  

I think the one year mandatory minimum in Massachusetts was intended to appease the voters of Massachusetts but do little else. I suspect any new federal laws will do the same.

Roger MacBride
Alms Matters Blog
 

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