The Black community MUST NOT be silent about this “War on Crime” legislation that could land you a mandatory 10-year prison sentence!
Can’t WE see what’s happening right before our very eyes?
Back in January, the Forward Times published an article entitled THE DEVIL IS IN THE DETAILS: Could proposed legislation by Lt. Governor Patrick and recent legislation giving people increased access to guns be a setup for a mass incarceration push in Texas?, where we exposed our readers to one of Lt. Governor Dan Patrick’s bold legislatively priorities for this 2023 Legislative Session, which was to get legislation passed that would “add a 10-year mandatory jail sentence to anyone convicted of using a gun while committing a crime.”
The Forward Times warned our readers that African Americans in Texas should be “very cautious, concerned, and cognizant about what is happening in plain sight regarding the carefree attitude that many of our top elected officials in the Lone Star State have about giving people unfettered access to guns, guns, and more guns.”
Fast forward to today, and while this isn’t meant to be a “we told you so” article, in all honesty, we have no other choice than to tell you that “we told you so” and now we have more to tell you.
Texas Senator Joan Huffman (R-Houston) recently authored Senate Bill 23 (Creating A Mandatory 10-Year Prison Sentence for Criminals Committing Gun Crime), which if passed, would guarantee that anyone charged with committing a felony act involving a gun would automatically receive a mandatory minimum prison sentence of 10 years.
Do you hear us now?
That legislation (SB 23) has not only been filed by Sen. Huffman, and supported by Lt. Governor Patrick, but the legislation has also been co-signed and echoed by Governor Greg Abbott, who has expressed his support for the same 10-year mandatory minimum sentencing.
After a street racer incident took place in San Antonio this past Saturday, San Antonio Police Chief Bill McManus tweeted about the details and announced that a number of arrests were made, along with the seizure of multiple firearms.
This prompted Gov. Abbott to tweet in response:
“Great job by San Antonio Police making arrests for street takeover events. Among the four arrests, two were for unlawful carrying of a weapon. Once again criminals caught carrying guns illegally. I want a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years for that.”
Keep in mind that this proposed legislation is being introduced here in Texas, exactly two years (one legislative session ago in 2021) after Republican lawmakers passed a “permitless carry” bill that allows Texans to openly carry handguns in public without needing a permit or having any required training to ensure they even know how to effectively operate a handgun.
State Representative Ron Reynolds, who serves as the Chair of the Texas Legislative Black Caucus states that this week, two students were injured from a shooting outside of Lamar High School in Arlington, and believes legislators must prioritize their conversation on gun safety and protecting our kids, because they deserve better.
“I hope this session we can have real conversations across the aisle on necessary reforms that can keep our communities safe and end the preventable cycle of gun violence,” said Rep. Reynolds. “I don’t support the notion of anyone receiving a mandatory 10-year sentence for just any crime while using a gun. I believe that judges should have some discretion in mitigating whether to reduce the sentence.”
Civil rights attorney Sadiyah Evangelista-Karriem believes that creating a law that has a chilling and contradictory effect on those who lawfully openly carry in public without a permit or required training as the current law exists, is problematic.
“This mandatory 10-year minimum will definitely unfairly target those asserting their Second Amendment rights, and minorities who are the most unjustly accused population as it concerns alleged crimes committed with guns,” said Attorney Evangelista-Karriem. “Guns are easily and readily available in Texas. Why not have significant gun control? This bill places the power of justice in the hands of prosecutors, completely bypassing the judge and jury.”
Again, we are trying to tell you something!
As a reminder, the Forward Times published an article in December 2015, entitled Open Carry… Is That Law Really For “Us”? which served as a heads up for the Black community to pay attention to the law that allows any individual with a Texas Concealed Handgun License to openly carry their handgun without any consequence. Then, the Forward Times published two additional articles—one in September 2021, entitled “Permitless Carry” is Here and EVERY Texan Should Be Concerned and another article in June 2021, entitled A ‘Setup’ Waiting to Happen—which both talked about HB 1927, allowing any Texas resident, age 21 and over, to openly carry a handgun in public without any permit, license, or required training.
This should be extremely disturbing and concerning for all Texans, especially African Americans, considering what the Black community has gone through with the so-called “War on Drugs” and the number of Black people who have gone to jail because of mandatory minimum sentencing. It has truly been a major contributor to the mass incarceration of Black people.
We know how mass incarceration and lengthy prison sentences have destroyed Black lives, Black families, and Black communities. The Black family structure has been impacted due to incarcerated parents not being able to serve as a provider or help raise their children. Also, the difficulties of re-entry into society after prison are significantly enhanced, in that formerly incarcerated people have challenges finding gainful employment, securing adequate housing, being able to vote, and other important things.
Mandatory minimum sentencing strips ALL the power away from judges and gives ALL the power to prosecutors. With mandatory minimum sentencing, prosecutors have the unchecked power to press charges on whoever they want, and charge them with whatever they want, with no consequences or repercussions, because mandatory minimum sentencing legislation gives them that power to do so. In essence, mandatory minimum sentencing gives prosecutors the ability to serve as both judge and jury on cases, so who can stop them if this legislation is passed?
The African American community must be vigilant and take this proposed legislation serious.
Historically, mandatory minimum sentencing is NOT good for the Black community, whatsoever. There is NO upside for the Black community, which is why community groups, churches, activists, and elected officials MUST get out in front of this legislation now.