18 USC 924 mandatory sentence in the Supreme Court
Abbott v US, to be argued Monday. Preview here.
18 USC 924(c) provides a mandatory, consecutive five year sentence for use of a gun in a drug offense, "Except to the extent that a greater minimum sentence is otherwise provided by this subsection or by any other provision of law..." Defendant was subject to (and got) a ten year mandatory minimum for the drug offense, and the trial court also stacked on the 924(c) mandatory sentence. The question is whether the "except" clause covers any mandatory minimum sentence applicable to the defendant's convictions, or whether it only covers a mandatory minimum for firearm possession during crime. If the first, then the trial court erred by adding the five year sentence onto the ten year one; if the latter, since the ten year sentence was for drug selling, not for possessing a gun, the trial court acted properly
I suspect there is no useful legislative history, since Congress enacts things like this was little thought beyond the fact it will look good in the press. A pragmatic construction -- try to construe it so as to make the system Congress created work the way it would have wanted -- hits the same problem, that it's hard to tell what Congress wanted to do.