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JENNIFER LIN
The Philadelphia Inquirer

Surrounded by the relatives of recently slain Philadelphia police officers, Gov. Rendell yesterday signed into law tougher gun penalties, including a mandatory 20-year sentence for anyone convicted of shooting - or shooting at - law enforcement officers.
House Bill 1845 also increases penalties for other gun-related crimes and closes a loophole that allowed some mentally ill individuals to buy guns.
But the General Assembly failed to support a provision that would have required the reporting of lost or stolen handguns.
Rendell said the law was "not a panacea," but could save lives by serving as a deterrent.
He noted that in the last five years, the number of assaults with firearms against Pennsylvania law enforcement officers increased 82 percent - far more than the national increase for the same period of 13 percent.
"It has to stop, and it begins here today," Rendell said at a signing ceremony at the headquarters of the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge No. 5.
The audience of more than 100 included Mayor Nutter, District Attorney Lynne M. Abraham, Police Commissioner Charles H. Ramsey and two main backers of the bill, Speaker Dennis O'Brien (R., Phila.) and Sen. Michael Stack (D., Phila.).
O'Brien said the new law was "not a complete body of work," but created a new "framework" for further debate on gun control.
Said Abraham: "Anytime we can get tighter gun laws, it is good for cutting violence in the city."
The FOP reported that in the last five years, criminals have shot at Philadelphia police officers 188 times. In 22 cases, officers were wounded - and in five instances, they were killed.
Officer Christopher Reed, who attended the signing, applauded the law. Last November, he was shot in the hip by a 16-year-old runaway drug dealer while trying to serve a warrant in East Frankford.
Reed, 32, a 12-year veteran who now works for the Crime Scene Unit, said an incident like that puts everyone on "heightened alert."
"It's bad out there," Reed said.
Ramsey, who previously headed the Washington Police Department, said the slaying of so many officers in the last year would be "unusual" for any city.
"I lost officers in D.C., but not to gun violence," he said. "It is very alarming to think that just within a year we've had four officers killed, three of whom were shot to death in outright assassinations."
In the last year, Officer Charles Cassidy was shot at point-blank range by a robber; Sgt. Stephen Liczbinski was shot and killed during a bank robbery; and Officer Patrick McDonald was shot to death last month after a traffic stop.
Nutter lamented the inability of the General Assembly to include a requirement on reporting lost or stolen guns. But he said the mandatory 20-year sentence for shooting at a police officer may deter violence.
"I like to think some of these knuckleheads can read and understand what's going on," Nutter said after the signing ceremony.
The new law will also increase penalties for altering a serial number on a weapon or lying on federal paperwork to buy a gun. It will also increase the statute of limitations for prosecuting straw purchases linked to gun crimes from two to five years.
Rendell said this was particularly important because it often takes longer than two years for law enforcement to recover and trace a gun to a crime.

Story From: The Philadelphia Inquirer
 

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But he said the mandatory 20-year sentence for shooting at a police officer may deter violence.
"I like to think some of these knuckleheads can read and understand what's going on," Nutter said after the signing ceremony.
Sounds like a typical mayor;
Referring to some of his constituents as "Knuckleheads" and lamenting that he hopes they will somehow become interested in reading law updates and be deterred from throwing shots at cops...
[-(
 
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