Explore The NRA Universe Of Websites

APPEARS IN News

Reciprocity Mix-Up Leads to Felony Charges for Philadelphia Mom

Friday, August 8, 2014

On Tuesday, Superior Court Judge Michael Donio declined to dismiss a case for unlawful possession of a firearm against Philadelphia resident Shaneen Allen.  Allen was arrested during a traffic stop last October after she volunteered to the officer that she had a firearm in her car.  She mistakenly believed her Pennsylvania license to carry firearms was valid in New Jersey.  This was hardly an unreasonable assumption, considering that Pennsylvania concealed carry licensees can lawfully carry in over 30 other states

Nevertheless, Judge Donio sided with prosecutors in deciding that Allen was not covered by a 180-day gun amnesty period for the surrender of firearms in New Jersey that happened to be occurring at the time of her arrest.  The judge also refused to overrule the Atlantic County Prosecutor’s decision to deny Allen a pre-trial intervention program that could have helped her avoid a criminal conviction.

New Jersey offers first-time offenders the opportunity to avoid criminal adjudications through the Pretrial Intervention Program (PTI).  The stated purpose of PTI is to “render early rehabilitative services, when such services can reasonably be expected to deter future criminal behavior.”  Allen is a 27-year-old mother of two with no criminal record who was employed as a healthcare worker at the time of her arrest.  She obtained her concealed carry permit after she herself was twice the victim of robbery.  The Atlantic County prosecutor has not alleged Allen possessed the firearm for criminal purposes or with evil intent.  Indeed, the Atlantic County PTI Director agreed to accept Allen into the PTI program.

Nevertheless, the Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Office refused to grant Allen’s request for PTI.  Instead, they are prosecuting her for a felony which is punishable by a minimum of three years in prison, with no chance for parole.  The maximum potential sentence is 10 years imprisonment.  According to Assistant Prosecutor Deborah Hay, Allen’s prosecution could serve as a “deterrent,” and the alleged offense was “too serious to warrant divergence” into PTI.

Allen is now planning on going to trial, which is scheduled for October 6th.  Her attorney, Evan Nappen, has indicated that Allen plans to make a defense based on ignorance or mistake of law.  Failing that, Allen would have to rely on jurors to recognize the injustice of her prosecution, or if found guilty, on Governor Chris Christie (R) to pardon her or commute her sentence.  Christie had previously intervened in the case of Brian Aitken, who was also prosecuted on a technical violation of a gun control statute and sentenced to seven years in prison.

Following the commutation of Aitken’s sentence, Chris W. Cox, Executive Director of NRA-ILA, emphasized the need for the New Jersey Legislature to revisit the state’s Draconian firearm regulations:  “There is a serious need to reform New Jersey’s gun laws so that the full weight of the state’s law enforcement and legal system falls squarely on the shoulders of criminals, not on people like Brian Aitken.”  Reacting to these repeated injustices, Assemblyman Ron Dancer (R-12) has introduced a bill that would give courts more options in adjudicating these types of gun cases. 

NRA-backed legislation is also pending in Congress that would protect travelers who found themselves in the same circumstances as Shaneen Allen.  The Right-to-Carry Reciprocity Act of 2013 (H.R. 2959) would require states that issue permits to their own residents (as does New Jersey, at least in limited cases) to provide full faith and credit to concealed carry permits issued by other states (please see related story).  Allen’s case exemplifies why this law is needed and the type of person it is designed to protect.  The Second Amendment right to bear arms means little in today’s increasingly mobile society when a person who has fully complied with the laws of her home state for carrying firearms becomes a felon simply for crossing a state boundary.

Legal theorists often described laws as fitting into one of two categories: malum in se or malum prohibitum.  The distinction between the two was explained by the North Carolina Supreme Court in the 1905 case of State v. Horton:  “An offense malum in se is properly defined as one which is naturally evil as adjudged by the sense of a civilized community, whereas an act malum prohibitum is wrong only because made so by statute.”  Laws that treat all carrying of firearms as presumptively criminal, without proof of bad intent, are malum prohibitum.  The fact that the conduct which led to Allen’s arrest would have been legal in over two-thirds of U.S. states makes New Jersey an outlier amongst the “civilized community” of the rest of the nation.

Allen’s case illustrates an essential truth of gun control.  No matter how its proponents attempt to justify it under the guise of “violence prevention,” “public safety,” or even “public health,” its primary purpose is to promote a social and political agenda.  The same ruthless despotism that results in school officials berating a harmless child for a “zero tolerance” infraction until the boy wets his pants is reflected here in the attitude of the Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Office.  Shaneen Allen caused no harm.  By all accounts, she acted in good faith, unaware she was violating an unusual and totally arbitrary prohibition.  Yet all that is irrelevant to the State of New Jersey, which is willing to ruin not just her life, but the life of her two young children, to demonstrate just how unwelcome firearms are in the state.

Decency and justice have so far failed Shaneen Allen.  Let’s hope the jury system – or executive clemency, if necessary – succeed where common sense and prosecutorial discretion have failed.

Those wishing to donate to Shaneen Allen’s legal defense fund may visit this link to contribute: http://gogetfunding.com/project/shaneen-allen-legal-defense-fund.

TRENDING NOW
Justice Department Terminates and Repudiates Operation Chokepoint

News  

Friday, August 18, 2017

Justice Department Terminates and Repudiates Operation Chokepoint

Current Justice Department leadership and Boyd should be commended for their forceful statement on this matter. This unequivocal repudiation of Operation Chokepoint should make a return to such political persecution unpalatable for all but the ...

Oregon: Governor Signs Anti-Gun Bill into Law

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Oregon: Governor Signs Anti-Gun Bill into Law

Yesterday, Governor Kate Brown signed Senate Bill 719A.  Based on a California law enacted in 2014, SB 719A will create a so-called “Extreme Risk Protection Order” (ERPO) that could be obtained by a law enforcement ...

Washington: Department of Labor & Industries Targeting Shooting Ranges

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Washington: Department of Labor & Industries Targeting Shooting Ranges

At the request of Public Health, Seattle & King County, the Washington Department of Labor and Industries has released a “first draft” of a new statewide regulatory scheme targeting lead and lead exposure in the workplace. ...

California: Ruling in NRA/CRPA Lawsuit Reigns in DOJ’s Misuse of DROS Fees

Friday, August 18, 2017

California: Ruling in NRA/CRPA Lawsuit Reigns in DOJ’s Misuse of DROS Fees

A California state court issued an important ruling in the NRA and CRPA supported case of Gentry v. Becerra, holding DOJ accountable for its historical mismanagement and misuse of DROS (dealer record of sale) account funds.

American Bar Association Continues to Attack Gun Owners, Due Process

News  

Second Amendment  

Friday, August 18, 2017

American Bar Association Continues to Attack Gun Owners, Due Process

The 2016 compilation of legislative policies of the ABA includes a raft of gun control proposals. In it, the ABA advocates for outmoded gun control measures, such as limits on the sale and possession of ...

First, Carry No Gun: Police Chief Gets Inhospitable Reception at Texas Medical Clinic

News  

Friday, August 18, 2017

First, Carry No Gun: Police Chief Gets Inhospitable Reception at Texas Medical Clinic

We recently reported on claims that “gun safety advocates” in the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services have given a U.S. Marine Corps. veteran an untenable choice: custody of his grandson or his constitutional ...

Elizabeth Warren Urges Democrats to Champion Gun Control, Shut Down Debate

News  

Friday, August 18, 2017

Elizabeth Warren Urges Democrats to Champion Gun Control, Shut Down Debate

Just as many in the Democratic Party are seeking to moderate their message in order to once again compete as a national political party, some high-profile Democrats are urging the party to lurch further left ...

Arizona Supreme Court Rebuffs Tucson’s Illegal Destruction of Firearms

News  

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Arizona Supreme Court Rebuffs Tucson’s Illegal Destruction of Firearms

On Thursday, the Arizona Supreme Court unanimously held that the state was within its authority to prohibit cities and counties from routinely destroying firearms obtained through forfeiture or as unclaimed property. State law holds that ...

Trump Administration Ends Another Obama-era Anti-Gun Policy

News  

Friday, August 18, 2017

Trump Administration Ends Another Obama-era Anti-Gun Policy

Justice Department to End ‘Operation Choke Point’

California: 2017 Legislative Session Reconvenes on Monday

Thursday, August 17, 2017

California: 2017 Legislative Session Reconvenes on Monday

On Monday, August 21, the California Legislature will reconvene from Summer recess.  Below is the status on the firearm-related bills still moving through the legislative process.  Please send an email to your state legislators respectfully urging ...

MORE TRENDING +
LESS TRENDING -
NRA ILA

Established in 1975, the Institute for Legislative Action (ILA) is the "lobbying" arm of the National Rifle Association of America. ILA is responsible for preserving the right of all law-abiding individuals in the legislative, political, and legal arenas, to purchase, possess and use firearms for legitimate purposes as guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.