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New bill increases penalties for federal weapons crimes

Guns have been a major topic of discussion lately. While some lawmakers focus on what they consider the underlying causes of firearms crimes, other legislators focus on regulating the weapons themselves. While agreement may be sparse these days, it appears that the U.S House of Representatives has outlined a plan to increase the penalties for those convicted of federal firearms offenses.

California residents may be interested to learn that in a surprising break from partisan bickering, two Democrats and two Republican house members recently introduced a federal anti-gun trafficking bill. The bipartisan bill not only strengthens penalties for those caught and convicted of federal gun trafficking, but also, the bill creates stiffer penalties for those caught purchasing prohibited weapons for other individuals or who are dishonest on federal background forms.

Depending on the type of firearm and the intended purpose, penalties for weapons offenses can range from a few years to life in prison. Federal weapons charges carry significantly more severe penalties. This is also why it is so vital for those facing federal firearms charges to wage a strong defense from the very start.

Gun control has always been a difficult and complex issue for American legislators. Trying to weigh the constitutional rights of individual freedom against the greater societal goals of peace and safety has never been an easy task. Whether introducing harsher penalties for weapons trafficking or those caught in possession of prohibited weapons is the answer is difficult to know with any degree of certainty. But Californians can at least be certain of their right to a presumption of innocence when facing federal firearms charges.

Source: New York Times, "Bipartisan House Plan Focuses on Gun Trafficking," Jeremy W. Peters, Feb.5, 2013

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