Punishment under new gun bill would be same for 1st time offenders

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - Anti-gun legislation is going to the Illinois House floor without changing the penalty for first-time offenders.

The Judiciary Committee voted 12-2 for legislation toughening sentences for repeat criminals.

But Rep. Michael Zalewski amended the initiative to keep the current sentence - one year for the first time someone is caught with a loaded, unlicensed gun. Offenders will still get out in six months instead of having to serve 85 percent of their sentences.

That was enough to get support from the National Rifle Association. The NRA worried law-abiding gun owners would get snagged in an innocent mistake.

But Illinois Department of Corrections officials remain opposed. Agency liaison Michael Lane says the prison system is "broke" and can't afford to house more prisoners.

The bill is SB1342

(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)


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