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

News  

Monday, April 24, 2017

Lawsuit Filed Against California's Assault Weapons Control Act

The National Rifle Association Institute for Legislative Action (NRA-ILA) today announced it is supporting, along with the California Rifle and Pistol Association (CRPA), an important Second Amendment lawsuit challenging California’s newly expanded Assault Weapons Control ...

“F” Stands for Fail: School Jeopardizes Student’s Future for Possession of Squirt Gun

News  

Second Amendment  

Friday, April 21, 2017

“F” Stands for Fail: School Jeopardizes Student’s Future for Possession of Squirt Gun

Public education’s long-running “zero tolerance” war against anything that suggests the idea of a firearm (including, for example, clothing, gestures, toys, food, computer images, and favorable opinions of self-defense) has claimed another victim. This time ...

Chicago: Mayor Emanuel Demands Tougher Laws for Gun Dealers as Straw Purchaser Gets Probation

News  

Friday, April 21, 2017

Chicago: Mayor Emanuel Demands Tougher Laws for Gun Dealers as Straw Purchaser Gets Probation

On Tuesday, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel met with representatives of the UCAN organization to make the case for further gun controls to combat the city’s violent crime. Chicago’s WLS reported that Emanuel used the opportunity ...

The Prosecutors and the Pagans: Two Sides of the Empire State’s Gun Laws

News  

Second Amendment  

Friday, April 21, 2017

The Prosecutors and the Pagans: Two Sides of the Empire State’s Gun Laws

Early this month, members of the gun-control group Prosecutors Against Gun Violence met at a “Manhattan Summit” and took the time to express their dismay and alarm over federal bills proposing national concealed carry reciprocity. ...

California: Open Carry Ban Passes in the Assembly

Friday, April 21, 2017

California: Open Carry Ban Passes in the Assembly

Yesterday, the state Assembly passed Assembly Bill 7 by a vote of 44 to 29.   AB 424 was not considered during yesterday’s floor session, however it remains eligible for a vote at any time.  

For 2017, A Historic NRA-ILA Leadership Forum

News  

Second Amendment  

Friday, April 21, 2017

For 2017, A Historic NRA-ILA Leadership Forum

For the past decade, NRA-ILA has sponsored leadership forums that have allowed our members to hear directly from national leaders.  Next Friday, that tradition continues and the line up of speakers is top notch.

South Carolina: Senate Subcommittee to Hear Multiple Gun Bills Tomorrow

Monday, April 24, 2017

South Carolina: Senate Subcommittee to Hear Multiple Gun Bills Tomorrow

Tomorrow, a subcommittee of the Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing to discuss several firearm-related bills, and subcommittee members need to hear from you.

Oregon: Anti-Gun Bill Heads to Senate Floor

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Oregon: Anti-Gun Bill Heads to Senate Floor

Yesterday, on the deadline for policy bills to move out of committee, the Senate Judiciary Committee voted to pass Senate Bill 719 with its -5 amendment.  Because a number of bills were effectively dead for ...

Pennsylvania: Firearms Preemption Bill Heads to the House Floor Next Week

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Pennsylvania: Firearms Preemption Bill Heads to the House Floor Next Week

Today, April 19, the House Judiciary Committee passed House Bill 671 by a 20-5 vote. HB 671 is scheduled to go before the full House for consideration next week.  Anti-gun billionaire Michael Bloomberg and the gun ...

California: One Gun a Month Bill Passes Senate Public Safety Committee

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

California: One Gun a Month Bill Passes Senate Public Safety Committee

On Tuesday April 18, the Senate Public Safety Committee passed SB 497 by a party-line vote and will be assigned to the Senate Appropriations committee for further consideration.  On Monday, April 17, the Senate Appropriations Committee sent ...

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.