Fresno, Calif. - Governor Jerry Brown signed Senate Bill 620 into law this week. The new law is being criticized for going soft on criminals who use guns. Some local law enforcement leaders say the new law could lead to even more gun violence, but the author of the bill claims it's about justice.
In the past if someone was arrested for a gun crime there were certain mandatory firearm enhancements added to the charges, which could result in decades added to someone's prison sentence. Now, this law takes those enhancements away from prosecutors and gives a judge the power to decide on the punishments.
Lawmakers in California are known for passing some of the strictest gun laws in the country, but Senate Bill 620 is baffling prosecutors.
"They're going to turn around and tell the criminals who are actually using firearms, who are actually using firearms to commit crimes, oh, we think you are getting too much of a punishment. This needs to be lessened," said Fresno County Assistant District Attorney Blake Gunderson.
Governor Jerry Brown signed Senate Bill 620 into law which changes how gun crimes are prosecuted. In the past prosecutors would add on gun enhancement penalties increasing the minimum sentence. Under the new law, sentencing is completely left up to the judge instead.
The author of the bill Sentator Steve Bradford a Democrat from Gardena issued this statement:
"No one disputes that crimes involving firearms must be taken seriously, but California should not continue forcing judges to dole out extreme and overly punitive sentences that don't fit the crime"
Fresno Police Chief Jerry Dyer says state lawmakers aren't understanding the impact a law like this has on California neighborhoods.
"Why are we seeing 400 shootings in the City of Fresno this year as compared to what we had last year? And it's because we have a weakening of the criminal justice system because certain individuals are creating laws in the State of California because they are out of touch with local communities," said Chief Dyer.
Chief Dyer says he's willing to help.
"I have not had one legislator in the State of California about this piece of legislation, or any other for that matter," said Chief Dyer.