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Baltimore lawmakers water down gun bill mandating 1-year sentence

Baltimore City Hall

Baltimore City Hall (The Daily Record/Lauren Rock)

Baltimore City Council members are watering down a proposal to impose mandatory one-year jail terms for carrying illegal handguns.

A city council committee adopted an amendment Tuesday that would exempt first-time offenders unless they are committing other crimes too.

Baltimore has been in the throes of a crime surge for more than two years. Mayor Catherine Pugh introduced the bill, which would impose a mandatory one-year sentence for illegally possessing a gun within 300 feet of a school, park, public building or church.

But many community and labor groups oppose it, saying research shows incarceration doesn’t make communities safer.

Tensions flared during the meeting when opponents felt the council was giving special treatment to others who were there to testify.

Police said two men were arrested. One of them complained of chest pains and was taken to a hospital for treatment.