Democrats in Washington state say they want to repeal a law that provides enhanced penalties for murders committed in drive-by shootings because it targets “gangs that were predominantly young and black.”
Fox News reports Reps. Tarra Simmons and David Hackney, both Democrats, have proposed a bill for the coming legislative session that would eliminate drive-by shootings as the basis for making a first-degree murder charge an aggravated murder charge.
That carries a mandatory sentence of life in prison.
The provision for the sentence enhancement was adopted by the state in 1995 and currently is alongside other factors such as murders committed by inmates while they are behind bars, murder for hire and the murder of a law enforcement officer.
The lawmakers say they want to promote “racial equity.”
They are targeting a provision in the law that states: “The murder was committed during the course of or as a result of a shooting where the discharge of the firearm… is either from a motor vehicle or from the immediate area of a motor vehicle that was used to transport the shooter or the firearm.”
Simmons said “it’s clear that it was targeted at gangs that were predominantly young and black.”
She told Fox News Digital, “”I believe in a society that believes in the power of redemption. Murder is murder no matter where the bullet comes from but locking young people up and throwing away the key is not the answer.”
The report noted that Washington state was suffering through a surge in gang-related crime at the time, with three gang-related homicides in 1991 but 17 in 1992, 31 in 1993 and 26 in 1994.
Simmons claimed the provision has been used only once, in the case against Kimonti Carter, who was part of a drive-by shooting in 1997 that left college student Corey Pittman dead.
“If he had been standing outside of the vehicle at the time, he would’ve faced 240-320 months in prison. Instead, he was sentenced to life in prison with no opportunity for parole because of this law,” Simmons said.
She described the law’s application as “systemic racism.”
Simmons wants the change in the law made retroactive, to free Carter.
A blog-posted commentary criticized the move, stating, “Legislators in Washington state are trying to right a wrong. It’s just not fair. If you kill a few people in a drive [by] shooting, you are stigmatized for life. The current law says that if you kill someone in a drive by shooting you go to prison for life. Rep. Tarra Simmons thinks the law is unfair because it targets blacks.
“Duh. Black gangs invented the drive by shooting.”
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