LANSING (AP) — Fed up with senseless violence, Michigan lawmakers on Tuesday voted unanimously to stiffen prison time for drive-by shooters.
Defendants who shoot from a vehicle now can get up to four years in prison if they endanger the safety of others without injuring them. Bipartisan legislation approved by the Senate and headed to the House would increase the penalty to a 10-year maximum.
The two bills are sponsored by senators whose districts include Flint and Pontiac, where drive-by violence has become a problem as in other large Michigan cities.
“We felt this was the time to tighten this up and basically take control of our streets back,” said Sen. Jim Marleau, R-Lake Orion, one of the sponsors. “It’s out of control right now. We just can’t keep going the way it was.”
Under the legislation, drive-by shooters could get up to 15 years for injuring victims, 20 for seriously maiming them and life for causing their death. Judges would have the option of sentencing defendants consecutively so they serve longer if convicted of related offenses.
A nonpartisan Senate Fiscal Analysis says the measures — which have the backing of law enforcement — could increase the likelihood of prison time and sentence lengths, costing government an unspecified amount of money.
Last year, Michigan had 100 felony dispositions for discharging a firearm from a vehicle or firing in or at a building.
The bills moved quickly in the Republican-led Senate, winning approval nearly four weeks after their introduction. Similar legislation sponsored by Democratic Rep. Stacy Erwin Oakes of Saginaw has been tied up in a GOP-controlled House committee since February.
“The Senate’s swift action on these bipartisan measures demonstrate how urgent it is to address violent crime in our neighborhoods,” said Sen. Jim Ananich, D-Flint, the other bill sponsor. “These changes are an important part of the comprehensive solutions we need to keep our families safe.”
Senate Bills 582-83: http://1.usa.gov/1ac7mBJ
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