Mandatory Sentencing For Gun Violence

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[National Op-Ed: On Gun Violence]

There is need for harsher sentencing for illegal weapons possesion.

Just ask Buffalo community activist and former Mayoral candidate Darnell Jackson lost another nephew to gun violence; his second in three months.

Robert C. Jackson Jr., was shot in the head. Word is he wasn’t even the target. The bullet was intended for one of the three who were wounded; Dwan House, Robert Caulfield, or Anwar Berry.

He was at the wrong place at the wrong time; there was a "beef" going on in front of Dinny's Bar on William Street here in Buffalo at 2a.m. on a Saturday. Robert Jackson had just recently completed a prison term. The uncle told me he was trying to turn his life around.

Ironically, almost a decade ago, Robert Jackson's Senior, father of the recent victim, was gunned down by members of a street gang off of Ferry Street—a cold case that still needs resolving.

A ranking of "US Cities Where it's Hardest to Get By," in the April issue of Forbes magazine placed Buffalo at fifth. According to the ranking: Our cost of living index is 96; our median income is at $44,740; and our far-famed unemployment rate is 9.6%. Cities ranking ahead of Buffalo on hardship, according to the Forbes piece, beginning from one –to four are: Providence RI, Los Angeles CA, Riverside CA, and Tampa FL. The Forbes piece called Buffalo "a fading rustbelt city."

With things getting tougher in Buffalo, more bleak times and possible violence can be anticipated.

The chances for a Black man to find gainful employment in Buffalo is daunting; let alone for a Black man with a record just out of prison.

So if violence dwells near hardship, or the other way around, what is to be done in places like Buffalo?

Jackson, the former mayoral candidate had a proposition. Why not impose the mandatory sentencing guidelines that were formerly used for drug possession under the Rockefeller Drug laws for weapons possession without a permit?

Maybe the harsher penalties would drive some sense and save some lives.


Stevenson is a syndicated columnist and blogs on


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