Gov. Ralph Northam (D-VA) you may remember called a special session of the Virginia General Assembly after the murders in the municipal building in Virginia Beach. His intent is to have a number of gun control bills passed ranging from universal background checks to red flag laws. As I wrote then, none of his proposals would have changed a thing in Virginia Beach.
Delegate David Yancy (R-Newport News) has an idea for a law that might impact the criminal misuse of firearms. While it wouldn’t have changed things in Virginia Beach, it might have an impact on armed crime in Virginia. Many criminals obtain their firearms through the criminal black market where stolen firearms are bought and sold.
And one tool they (law enforcement) told him that wish they had is one federal law enforcement agencies have used for seven decades. It is the power to ask judges to cut convicts’ sentences if, once in prison, if those offenders give police the information needed to bring drug-smugglers, gun-runners and other organized criminals to justice.
“I think this could help,” Yancey said, adding that in his experience, most gun crime in Newport News and many other communities involves stolen weapons.
“You’ll see someone crashing a car into a pawnshop and clean out all the guns, then those guns end up on the street,” he said.
The Virginia Pilot story goes on to note:
The average time federal offenders serve after a Rule 35 sentence reduction is just under seven years, according to a recent U.S. Sentencing Commission study. On average, Rule 35 results in a 39% reduction in the length of a sentence, the federal agency found.
The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia grants the most Rule 35 sentence reductions, or some 1,645 out of a national total of 10,811 between 2009 and 2014, the study found.
Though such a rule wouldn’t have prevented a gunman from killing a dozen people in a Virginia Beach municipal building last month, Yancey said it would be a way of addressing gun violence that doesn’t infringe anyone’s Second Amendment rights. The right to bear arms doesn’t include the right to steal guns or possess a stolen weapon, he noted.
It’s also in line with legislation enacted last year that allows judges to reduce sentences for offenders who provide a lot of help to an investigation or prosecution of drug dealing.
Yancey’s proposal would allow a judge to revise a sentence after the offender has already started serving it.
His concern with stolen weapons led him last year to introduce a bill that would have set a series of mandatory minimum sentences for stealing guns with the intention of selling them, receiving or selling stolen firearms, or using stolen guns in a crime. The bill died in committee.
Providing incentives to criminals to turn in their source makes sense. His bill introduced last year to add to sentences for the theft of firearms with the intent to sell them also makes sense. Both might have a great impact on crime by drying up the supply of stolen firearms than anything Northam or the gun control industry has ever proposed.