New Jersey’s fear-filled Democrats have long made a mockery of common sense in their law-making, and their paranoid gun control laws have made the state a punchline for the rest of the nation for years. A string of high-profile arrests with the threat of long felony prison sentences for minor offenses has put the state under a microscope. Prosecutors have had to be publicly shamed into dropping absurd charges in some cases, while an apologetic Chris Christie has felt compelled to issue pardons in other instances.
It now appears that the state has another absurd incident to add to its list of absurd cases.
An actor is facing a decade behind bars for running afoul of the state’s gun laws for holding an airsoft gun while filming a low-budget movie.
Carlo Goias, whose stage name is Carlo Bellario, was charged under New Jersey’s strict gun law. It requires permits for firearms, including the airsoft gun Goias used while filming a car chase scene.
Goias rejected a plea deal offer Tuesday that could have sent him to jail for less than a year. He faces up to a decade behind bars because of prior felony convictions that prosecutors say include theft and burglary.
“I was shooting a movie — I wasn’t committing a crime intentionally,” Goias recently told The Associated Press. “Robert De Niro doesn’t ask Marty Scorsese is if he has gun permits. We’re actors. That’s for the production company to worry about.”
Some state lawmakers say the case highlights the need for New Jersey to change its gun laws.
The permit law recently led to the arrest of a Pennsylvania corrections officer who lacked a New Jersey permit for a gun that was legal in his home state. The charges were later dropped.
Airsoft guns fire nonlethal plastic pellets. Nearly half of the states and many cities regulate the weapons to some degree, according to the San Francisco-based Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence.
New Jersey defines all non-powder guns as firearms, which require a permit to carry them. State lawmakers are pushing legislation that would give prosecutor’s more discretion in filing charges under the statute.
Goias, who lives in Toms River, New Jersey, said he only acts part time to get more exposure for his day job as a standup comedian. The Internet Movie Database credits him with a few roles, including the part of “beach man” in the 2013 movie “Bikini Girls vs. The Surf Wolf.”
When he was arrested, Goias was playing the body guard of a drug dealer in the unfinished film “Vendetta Games.” The plot involves undercover agents who infiltrate a Columbian drug operation. IMDb lists the movie’s budget as $50,000.
The car chase scene was shot in a residential neighborhood, prompting several neighbors to call 911.
“I pretended to shoot out the window; they were going to dub in the sound later,” Goias said. “We get back, and within a couple of minutes we’re surrounded by cop cars.”
The Garden State’s patchwork of gun laws are both absurd and extreme.
Its time for the New Jersey legislature to mature, educate themselves, and create gun policy that targets criminals, and not people simply trying to live their lives.