Simply holding an air soft pellet gun can lead to a five-year prison sentence in New Jersey. Actor and commedian Carlo Bellario discovered this the hard way when he was arrested for using such a gun as a prop in a movie scene.
“Now because of that I’m looking at five years because it’s a second-degree crime,” Bellario told TV station PIX 11.
Bellario spent four days in the Middlesex County jail after police arrested him at a movie location. His “crime” was pretending to fire a pellet gun and waving it around in a chase scene for a low-budget movie called Vendetta Games. Bystanders mistook the car chase for the real thing and called police, who arrested Bellario.
Under a New Jersey law called the Graves Act, it is a second-degree felony to possess any weapon, even a BB or pellet gun, without a special permit, attorney Tim Farrow told PIX 11.
“The producer didn’t have a permit to film,” Bellario said. “Didn’t have a permit for that gun which turned out to be a [pellet] gun.”
He later wrote, “We filmed the scene in a residential area of Woodbridge, and as soon as we returned from shooting the scene, the set was surrounded by police cars. … When the police arrived we attempted to explain to them that this is a movie shoot, and that the gun was a prop. … I was the only one arrested that day for possession of a handgun, and now face up to 5 years of prison.”
Bellario is hardly the first law-abiding citizen to run afoul of the Garden State’s draconian gun control regime. In November 2014, Gordon van Gilder, a 72-year-old retired school teacher, faced a similar sentence for carrying an unloaded 250-year-old antique pistol in his car. Chargers were later dropped.
In 2013, single mom Shaneen Allen spent 40 days in jail in Atlantic City because she had a pistol in her car. Allen actually had a concealed weapon license for the weapon from neighboring Pennsylvania. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie pardoned her.
Bellario, who cannot afford an attorney, has set up a Go Fund Me page to raise money for his defense. As of February 3, he had collected $2,915 toward the $15,000 he is trying to raise for bond and a legal defense.
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