Norris Strengthens “Crooks with Guns” Law

June 18, 2009

Norris Strengthens “Crooks with Guns” Law

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The General Assembly has approved two pieces of legislation cracking down on violent crime in Tennessee, building on the “Crooks with Guns Law,” before adjourning the 2009 legislative session.  Both bills were sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris (R-Collierville).

“Tennessee ranks second in the nation in the number of violent crimes,” said Norris, who sponsored the original Crooks with Guns Law.  “This legislation would work to keep those offenders off the street so that they are no longer a danger to the public.”  Sixty-seven percent of those convicted of violent crimes are re-arrested within three years of being released from prison.  The recidivism rate increases to 80 percent when you move past the three-year mark.

The original “Crooks with Guns” legislation made it an additional offense to be armed with a firearm when committing or attempting a list of dangerous felonies like aggravated and especially aggravated kidnapping, burglary, stalking, carjacking, voluntary manslaughter, and certain drug crimes.

Senate Bill 672 would add a minimum of three years to the sentence of a violator who possesses a firearm during the commission of attempted first-degree murder, to be served after the sentence for the underlying offense.  If a violator possesses a firearm during the commission of the attempted first-degree murder and has a prior felony conviction, then a mandatory minimum of five years would be added to the sentence.  In addition, if a violator possesses a firearm during the commission or attempt to commit a
dangerous felony or attempting to escape, then a mandatory minimum of six years is added to the sentence to be served after that of the underlying offense.  A prior felony conviction from this would add 10 years onto the sentence.

The General Assembly also approved another Norris bill aimed at keeping repeat violent criminals convicted of aggravated burglary behind bars longer by counting each felony committed within a 24-hour period as a separate offense.  Under current law, with few exceptions, felonies committed within a 24-hour period constitute one conviction for the purpose of determining prior convictions by the court.  This bill, Senate Bill 2115, requires all aggravated burglaries that a defendant commits within a 24-hour period to be counted as separate prior convictions for purposes of determining whether the defendant is a multiple, persistent, or career offender under the Criminal Sentencing Reform

“Both of these bills aim to provide safety to our citizens by keeping violent repeat offenders locked up,” Norris added.  “We must make public safety a priority of state government so our citizens feel secure in their own communities.”

First elected to the General Assembly in 2000, Senator Norris represents the West Tennessee Counties of Shelby, Lauderdale, Tipton, and Dyer.


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