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Lawmaker wants longer sentences for violent crimes

INDIANAPOLIS – A Republican lawmaker from Indianapolis wants Indiana to require mandatory 20-year sentences for people who use a firearm while committing a violent crime.

State Sen. Jim Merritt says he plans to introduce legislation with the mandatory sentence in response to a string of home invasions in the Indianapolis area and rising gun and gang-related crimes across the state. He says Hoosiers can no longer tolerate home invasions, violent crimes, senseless shootings and murders.

Under current law, judges can sentence violent offenders using a firearm during a crime to an additional five years in prison. Merritt wants to make sentence enhancement mandatory and increase it to 20 years.

The Indianapolis Star reports ( ) that Merritt says Indiana needs to strengthen its penalties against violent offenders “to keep them off our streets.”