(NASHVILLE, TN), December 20, 2011 – Legislation sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris (R-Collierville) that strengthens penalties against those who discharge a firearm into an occupied habitation is among several new laws set to take effect on January 1. The new law aims to curb “drive-by shootings” which is a growing problem with gang-related violence in the state.
“Part of a gang’s motivation is to spark fear and intimidation into the hearts of anyone who opposes them,” added Norris. “This is an especially egregious crime because children are often the victims, like the five year-old boy who was shot in the back while at his home in Memphis earlier this year. Criminals often claim they do not know the home was occupied, meaning they could only be charged with at the most a Class E felony.”
“This bill puts some teeth in the law so that those who fire on a home will face much tougher penalties, including additional jail time,” he added.
Presently, state law prescribes that offenders can only be charged with reckless endangerment, which is a Class A misdemeanor, even if it involves putting a person in imminent danger of death or serious bodily injury, unless it is committed with a deadly weapon which would be a Class E felony. Norris’ law creates an additional section to the state’s “Reckless Endangerment” law to make discharging a weapon into a residence a Class C felony if it is occupied and a Class D felony if no one is present.
Norris has sponsored a series of anti-crime laws passed in recent years designed to curb gun-related violence and focusing resources on keeping these criminals behind bars longer to protect the public. Several of those measures are part of the “crooks with guns” package which was designed to crack down on gun violence in the state.
“This new law gives law enforcement the tools they need to successfully prosecute this crime,” Norris concluded.