Texas SB 23 is raising concerns from both the Left and the Right:

Relating to increasing the minimum term of imprisonment and changing the eligibility for community supervision and parole for certain felony offenses in which a firearm is used or exhibited and to certain consequences on conviction of certain offenses.

In essence, individuals convicted of certain felonious crimes, like sexual assault, intoxicated assault/ manslaughter, human trafficking, and a few others would be required to serve a mandatory minimum of 10 years of prison time or probation if a gun is displayed or used during those aforementioned crimes. Additionally, these convictions could never leave the record of the convicted person- making future employment and education prospects rather dim.

Interestingly, one of the crimes included is, "ASSEMBLING OR OPERATING AN AMUSEMENT RIDE WHILE INTOXICATED," leaving me to wonder how often that comes up, and how often a person brandishes a weapon while assembling a tilt-a-whirl whilst absolutely tilted.

Photo by Maria Lysenko on Unsplash
Photo by Maria Lysenko on Unsplash

Mandatory minimums have proven time and time again to abysmally fail at deterring repeat offenses. Conceived in 1984, mandatory minimums have a fraught history of landing people in prison for decades, in spite of any and all extenuating circumstances, because the judge/ jury is legally bound to those prison terms. And that's why some folks on the Right of the political spectrum are concerned about this bill as well.

Criminal justice reform advocates see the bill as a regression to tough-on-crime policies. Gun rights groups fear law-abiding gun owners who defend themselves with their weapon could face time in prison.

Personally, I think that life is incredibly nuanced and that judges and juries should be able to sentence convicted persons in "shades of gray." Sure, those crimes sound terrible, but let me give you this scenario: you legally open-carry your firearm. You get drunk and into a bar fight and win. You are convicted of intoxicated assault and now must go to prison for 10 years and it will never leave your record. Does that seem fair? Not to me. Did this scenario occur to me because of Con-Air? Yes, it did.

Time and time again, we hear that gun violence is the result of a mental health crisis. I agree that's true. So, can we get some mental health bills passed instead of bills like these? Maybe not, as that would take real bipartisan effort and the allocation of resources, while bills like this require only political posturing.

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