Gun Stories of the Week: Universal Background Check Bill Resurrected Again

TOP STORY
Universal background bill resurrected again

Rep. Rep. Mike Thompson (D-Calif.) told the Santa Rosa Press Democrat that he will renew his efforts to pass the federal universal background checks bill hand-crafted by anti-gun zealot Michael Bloomberg that has failed muster repeatedly in previous iterations.

Thompson and anti-gun Republican Peter King of New York have co-sponsored H.R.1217, the Public Safety and Second Amendment Rights Protection Act, which calls for the establishment of a “universal” background check system that would criminalize the private transfer of a firearm between life-long friends and even family members.

Thompson, a lifelong hunter and Vietnam War veteran, is the chairman of the House Gun Violence Prevention Task Force, has been unable to bring a bipartisan background checks bill up for a vote in the Republican-controlled House.

“I’m just trying to stop the bad guys from getting guns,” Thompson told Paul Payne of The Press Democrat after a January duck hunt at the Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area in an article published on March 19. “Over 30 people are killed every day by someone using a gun. Young lives, old lives, mothers, brothers and sisters are killed. Lives just snuffed out. There is mass shooting after mass shooting and nothing gets done. And the American people want something done.”

Two small problems, as AWR Hawkins notes in a March 21 Breitbart blog. Not only does Thompson fail to acknowledge that gun violence is highest in places with the most gun control laws, and that universal background checks failed to prevent mass shootings in California, Colorado, Connecticut, Washington and, oh by the way, Paris.

“Yet,” Hawkins writes, “Rep. Thompson is pushing universal background checks as a way “to stop the bad guys from getting guns.”

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WHY WE LOVE NEW JERSEY
Actor faces prison for shooting unpermitted pellet gun in movie scene

You know Carlo Bellario from his stand-up comedy routines somewhere on Youtube and his performance as “beach man” in the 2013 movie classic, "Bikini Girls vs. The Surf Wolf.”

OK. You don’t. And that’s probably a good thing.

But Bellario, whose real name is Carlo Goias, is currently accruing some real-life notoriety relevant to gun owners because he’s facing 10 years in prison for using a prop pellet gun without a state permit — while filming a movie.

Yes. In New Jersey, you need a permit to discharge an airsoft pellet gun, a prop, in a movie. Goias was playing “the body guard” while filming "Vendetta Games" in a Middlesex County residential neighborhood, prompting neighbors to call 911.

"I pretended to shoot out the window; they were going to dub in the sound later," Goias told The Press of Atlantic City. "We get back, and within a couple of minutes we're surrounded by cop cars."

Goias spent four days in jail before being released on $10,000 for bail. An online site — "RAW DEAL FOR CARLO” — has raised nearly half of the $15,000 he needs to pay his lawyers.

On March 22, Goias turned down a plea deal that would reduce his penalty to a year or less in prison, opting instead to go to trial.

Because of New Jersey’s Graves Act, an airsoft pellet gun is considered a firearm. Federal laws do not consider airsoft pellet guns to be firearms.

"I was shooting a movie — I wasn't committing a crime intentionally," Goias 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."

Fantasy isn’t the exclusive province of filmmakers. it’s certainly alive, but not well, in the New Jersey State Legislature. The case is spurring some lawmakers to say New Jersey must change its gun laws.

Will that happen in time to help Goias? Stay tuned.

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**STATE ROUNDUP
Alabama bill takes first step toward blocking federal gun control **

Alabama Rep. Ed Henry (R-Decatur) has introduced a bill that would declare all federal gun control laws null and void in Alabama.

Henry’s House Bill 437 was submitted on March 17. It asserts “all federal acts, laws, orders, rules, or regulations regarding firearms constitute a violation of the Second Amendment as determined by the Alabama state courts, the legislature, and the governor.”

According to the Associated Press, the proposal goes on to declare all such measures “invalid in this state,” and that they “shall not be recognized by this state, are specifically rejected by this state, and shall be considered null and void and of no effect in this state.”

While the bill, if adopted, would not end federal gun control in Alabama, the Tenth Amendment Center says it “sets the stage for further steps to actually stop enforcement of such laws in the state. It would make it the duty of all three branches of the state government to determine the constitutionality of any federal gun control.”

If the House and Senate both pass the bill and it is signed into law by the governor, Alabama will join Alaska, Kansas and Idaho in doing so since 2014.

Similar proposals have been adopted by one legislative body but not both in Arizona, Louisiana and South Carolina and introduced in 11 states during their 2016 legislative sessions (Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia, Virginia, Kentucky, Alabama, Illinois, Iowa, Oklahoma and Minnesota).

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IN THE COURTS
Federal court rejects challenge to Colorado gun control laws

The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals on March 22 ordered a lower court judge to dismiss a lawsuit challenging Colorado’s 2013 gun control laws, saying the plaintiffs — county sheriffs, gun shops, outfitters and shooting ranges — “lacked standing” to bring the case.

The measures, which passed the Colorado legislature and were signed into law by Democrat Gov. John Hickenlooper were celebrated as a victory by gun-control activists in a state where gun ownership is treasured.

The laws ban ammunition magazines with more than 15 rounds and require universal background checks for gun buyers. Their adoption prompted a fierce backlash from voters who recalled two key Democratic members of the state legislature.

The lawsuit claimed the laws restricted Coloradans' rights to own and bear arms under the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. After a nine-day trial, the judge found in favor of the governor, saying no evidence had been produced by the plaintiffs which showed that their rights to gun ownership would be infringed by the laws.

The plaintiffs appealed to a three-member panel of the 10th Circuit, which wrote in a 33-page ruling that despite the significance of the underlying issues at stake, they had no standing to even bring their lawsuit because they had not demonstrated that they would be personally harmed by the laws.

"We feel that we made some strong arguments that this law can inadvertently make a farmer a criminal," John Dooley, a spokesman for the Colorado Farm Bureau, told Reuters’ Dan Whitcomb. "Firearms are integral to farming and ranching, from protecting our livestock and crops to also defending our life and property in some cases."

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