This is a great example of an area where the Tea Party and Occupy can see eye-to-eye. Rand Paul 2016!
Here’s why this bill is important: A guy–let’s call him Weldon–sells pot to a government informant, who notices that Weldon has a gun strapped to his ankle. The next time the informant buys pot from Weldon, he notices a gun in Weldon’s car. When police move in to arrest Weldon, they find guns in his house. Weldon has never fired these guns, never used them to coerce anyone. He has, however, sold pot three times* while in possession of a firearm, so prosecutors charge Weldon with “multiple counts of possession of a gun during a drug trafficking offense.” He is convicted. What do you think Weldon’s sentence is? Ten years? Twenty years? Try 55 years–five for the first gun-related offense, and 25 for the second and third. That’s the mandatory minimum federal sentence for Weldon’s charges, meaning the judge who sentenced him could not sentence him to less time–only more.
Weldon Angelos is a real person, by the way, and the existence of a safety valve in 2004, the year he was sentenced, would’ve allowed the judge to sentence him to 18 years instead of 55 (that was the judge’s preference). It would’ve meant Weldon, who was 24 at sentencing, would go free at age 42 instead of age 79. But because the federal system has mandatory minimums with no parole, Weldon will spend most of the rest of his life behind bars for selling several hundred dollars worth of pot while wearing a gun on his ankle.