Rep. Frank Farry joined the state House Majority Policy Committee in a hearing to outline the crime crisis in Bucks County, find solutions to improve public safety, and urge passage of his legislation to require mandatory minimum sentences for felons who illegally possess guns.
“Crime has risen at an alarming rate here in Bucks County, especially the neighboring communities of Philadelphia,” Farry said. “We will continue to work legislatively in deterring this surge in criminal chaos and find the solutions necessary to end the unrest.”
To reduce the crime surge gripping the Philadelphia region, Farry urged House members to pass laws requiring tougher mandatory sentences when convicted felons illegally possess a firearm.
Farry, recognizing this crisis, recently co-authored legislation to impose a new mandatory minimum sentence for repeat offenders. His legislation, House Bill 2819, would impose a new mandatory minimum sentence for those previously convicted of a felony and found to be illegally in possession of a firearm. A first-time offender would receive a mandatory minimum jail sentence of 11 months. The mandatory minimum jail sentence would increase significantly with each offense thereafter.
“Those who are repeatedly committing the same crime of carrying illegal firearms are career criminals. They will not stop until there are consequences,” Farry said. “There is no good reason for a person to be possessing an illegal firearm other than causing more havoc and harm, which we have seen seep into our communities.”
Bill McVey, safety director of the Bensalem Police Department, said during the hearing that crime in Bucks County is largely due to perpetrators from neighboring counties.
“In Bensalem, 42% of the criminals we arrested in 2021 were Philadelphia residents. This number was 29% two years ago. This is a 13% increase, and one that indicates the problems of Philadelphia are becoming the problems of suburban towns,” McVey said. “We need to keep our police forces funded, strong and proactive with the support of our district attorney’s office to keep our communities safe.”
Farry joined committee Chairman Martin Causer and additional testifiers: Matt Weintraub, Bucks County District Attorney; Daniel J. Friel, Warrington Police Chief; Sgt. Michael Moore, Cheltenham Township Police Department and United States Police Canine Association Region 6 (Pennsylvania) president; and a business owner from Feasterville who was recently a victim of violent crime.