Torres’ bill on carrying loaded firearm into airport deserves support

Jose Zapata Calderon
Created: 05/29/2012 01:21:26 PM PDT

In reference to the May 22 article “Torres’ bill creates ruckus in Assembly,” I am in full support of Assemblywoman Norma Torres’ bill AB 1282 that would create a new state law treating the act of carrying a loaded firearm into an airport as a serious offense.

Assemblyman Tim Donnelly should have been charged with a felony rather than with two misdemeanors for carrying a loaded 45-caliber Colt Mark IV handgun with four rounds of ammunition in the magazine and a separate magazine with five additional rounds in his carry-on luggage.

The offense can be considered a felony if the armed person is a gang member and if the armed person is legally prohibited from carrying a firearm. The Minuteman group that Donnelly has professed to belong to certainly falls in the category of a violent gang. Minuteman members have been known to harbor and carry loaded weapons. Former President George Bush identified them as “armed, self-appointed vigilantes.”

In 2011, the leader of a Minuteman group in Arizona, Shawna Forde, was given the death sentence for the killings of Raul Flores and his 9-year-old daughter Brisenia. According to police reports on the incident, Forde and members of her “posse” mistakenly raided the Flores home dressed as law enforcement officers “looking for money and drugs to finance her border-watch group.”

If this is not enough to categorize a Minuteman group as a “gang,” I don’t know what is. Hence, it is no coincidence that the Southern Poverty Law Center, in addition to listing the Minuteman group as a “hard-line nativist and racial extremist hate group” in the past, has now also included Donnelly as a former founder of the largest anti-immigrant Minuteman chapter in California and named Donnelly as a “right-wing radical” in its Spring 2011 Intelligence Report.

In addition to the grounds of being able to charge Donnelly for being part of a gang, there was the second possibility of his being charged with a felony for carrying a loaded gun. Donnelly, we now know, did not have a permit for carrying a loaded gun. That is why the circumstances in this case warrant the calling of our state representatives in support of AB 1282.

Torres’s bill will ensure that, in cases such as this one, the perpetrator will be arrested and simultaneously be banned from the designated airport. Although Donnelly got off with a slap on the hand, Assemblywoman Torres’s bill will hopefully be passed so that there are no “double standards” in how the law is interpreted and implemented in the future.

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