Feds don’t consider Bellario case a real firearm
The Carlo Bellario gun case took a turn yesterday when he was offered a plea deal that could mean 3 years in prison. Realistically, it would more likely be a year or less. But Carlo said no, he wants to go to trial believing he did nothing intentionally wrong.
Carlo, a standup comic and aspiring actor, took a small role in an independent film where he was given what he says he believed to be a prop gun. Turns out it was an airsoft pellet gun. In most of the U.S. this wouldn't have been any big deal. Here in Jersey, because of the Graves Act, an airsoft pellet gun is considered a firearm. Now Carlo faces years in prison if things don't go his way at trial.
We talked to Carlo yesterday after his court hearing, just minutes after turning down the plea deal. He's despondent, saying he feels like his life is over and that he feels like hanging himself. I did my best to keep him positive, but it's a hell of a situation he's in.
Are Jersey's gun laws far too strict in considering bb guns and airsoft pellet guns the same as a firearm? I did some research and found out the federal government doesn't even consider what he held that day to be a firearm. There are no federal laws about air guns, according to pelletgunzone.com. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives states:
“The term ‘firearm’ is defined in the Gun Control Act of 1968, 18 U.S.C. Section 921 (a) (3), to include ‘(A) any weapon (including a starter gun), which will, or is designed to or may readily be converted to expel a projectile by the action of an explosive; (B) the frame or receiver of any such weapon…’ Based on Section 921 (a) (3), air guns, because they use compressed air and not an explosive to expel a projectile, do not constitute firearms under Federal law – unless they are manufactured with the frames or receivers of an actual firearm. Accordingly, the domestic sale and possession of air guns is normally unregulated under the Federal firearms laws enforced by ATF.”
To make matters worse, Carlo has priors from years ago when he was a young man. He says he never committed any violent crimes, but because of the priors he's not available for PTI (pretrial intervention). We'll be speaking with Carlo's lawyer, Jeff Henninger, this evening at 6:10pm, tune in and listen.