State Politics

Boyd calls for stiffer punishment when felons use guns

TALLAHASSEE -- Florida Rep. Jim Boyd on Thursday filed House Bill 947, which would slap a mandatory minimum prison sentence on convicted felons if they are caught carrying a gun or using it in commission of a crime.

The measure would be an amendment to Florida’s current “10-20-Life” law that sets mandatory minimums for anyone convicted of a gun-related crime. Boyd, R-Bradenton, said the proposal has already been endorsed by the Florida Sheriffs Association and other law enforcement groups.

“This amendment to the 10-20-Life Law will give violent felons pause before arming themselves because they will be facing a 10-year minimum mandatory prison sentence,” said Greg Stout, president of Tampa Police Benevolent Association Inc., in a news release issued by Boyd’s office. “If they make the choice to carry a firearm and are apprehended, our society will be safer knowing they are behind bars for a long time.”

Boyd said Stout has been a friend for more than 20 years, and they met earlier this year to “brainstorm” ideas on how to toughen gun laws after the shooting deaths of police officers in Miami and St. Petersburg and other violent crimes.

“This bill will protect not only law enforcement but also the citizens of this great state by keeping violent felons off the street,” Boyd said in the statement.

In an interview, Boyd acknowledged that there might be an added expense for the state by locking up offenders for lengthy minimum prison terms. But it’s worth it, he said.

“Personally, the cost of a life is more important than if they are on the outside,” he said.