A string of gun violence in southwest Philadelphia raises the issue of underage gun users and how the law handles minors with guns.
String of Shootings Targets Teens in Philadelphia
Over the course of the past week, several shootings have happened in the southwestern region of Philadelphia, leaving several teenagers hurt or killed.
On Friday, February 15, gun violence left a 17-year-old rapper dead. Immediately following the vigil for the victim of the first shooting on February 17, there was another shooting that killed an 18-year-old. Just after midnight, there was another shooting that left a 16-year-old seriously hurt.
Police have made no arrests, so far. There is no indication from law enforcement as to whether they think that the shootings are connected. However, common sense suggests that they are – they all happened in the same area in a matter of days, and appear to be targeting a group of young adults.
Based on the ages of the victims, the odds seem significant that the people behind the shootings would be underage, as well.
Legal Age to Use a Firearm in Pennsylvania
In Pennsylvania, there is a state law, 18 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 6110.1, that prohibits anyone who is under the age of 18 from using a firearm. While there are exceptions – like when they are under the direct supervision of an adult or are lawfully hunting – it seems unlikely that they would apply to this particular situation.
Violation of this statute, alone, constitutes a first-degree misdemeanor – the most serious type of misdemeanor – which carries between 30 months and five years in jail, as well as a fine of up to $10,000. Other charges quickly stack on top of this one, especially if the firearm was used in the commission of a crime or a shooting. Homicide charges from the resulting gun violence can imperil the rest of the minor's life, especially if they are close to turning 18 and risk being tried as an adult.
Furnishing a Minor With a Firearm is a Felony
Surprisingly, it is an even more serious offense to furnish a minor with a firearm in Pennsylvania. Subsection (c) of the statute forbids the knowing and intentional provision of a firearm to a minor if the use of the weapon would not fall into one of the exceptions that allow underage people to use one. Violations of this part of the statute are a third-degree felony, punishable with between 42 months and seven years in jail, and a fine of up to $15,000.
Gun Crime Defense Lawyer Joseph D. Lento Serves Philadelphia
Joseph D. Lento is a criminal defense lawyer who represents people who have been accused of a gun crime in or near the city of Philadelphia. Convictions for even minor gun offenses can endanger your Second Amendment rights. The jail term and the fines that accompany a conviction can alter your life well before that, though.
If you have been accused of a gun crime, call his law office at (215) 535-5353 or contact him online.