Shaneen Allen is a law abiding gun owner from Philadelphia. She is a hard working single mom that spends her day as a phlebotomist and her evenings caring for her two kids. When she was passing through a routine traffic stop in New Jersey, the police officer asked if she had any weapons in the vehicle. She acknowledged that she did have a firearm and offered her Pennsylvania conceal carry permit as well, but she was shocked at what happened next. Her fully legal weapon in Pennsylvania was apparently illegal in the state of New Jersey and she was promptly placed under arrest. She could face up to three years in prison for the violation.
In New Jersey, gun laws are stricter than anywhere in the United States. Allen was unaware that she could face charges for simply having her concealed weapon locked up in a box inside her car as she passed through. However, NJ law does not recognize or accept carry permits from any other state. Her attorney, Evan Nappen, frequently represents similar cases where law abiding gun owners mistakenly carry guns across state lines and then face disastrous consequences. He told Fox News that Allen simply made “an honest mistake”.
Officers on the scene charged her with unlawful possession of a weapon and armor penetrating bullets. At first, she was accepted into a pretrial program created for nonviolent offenders. This would have drastically reduced her penalty or removed the charge from her record altogether. However, the Atlantic County Prosecutor’s office opposed her enrollment in the program and is pursuing felony charges.
“There’s no way a hard-working woman like this should be considered a felon,” said frustrated Nappen. But this isn’t the first time he has seen the New Jersey justice system be aggressive towards out of state firearm offenders. He formerly represented Brian Aitken, a NJ resident that was sentenced to serve seven years in state prison after police found his gun, purchased legally in Colorado. Aitken’s case drew national press coverage and caused a major stir among gun rights activists and eventually Gov. Chris Christie commuted his charges.
Nappen had no encouraging predictions for Allen’s future. He only told reporters that involved legal council would have a pretrial conference this month. It’s a sad day when a hard working single mom could go to jail for three years simply because she crossed state lines with a concealed weapon. What will happen to her kids? How is this justice?