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
California: Governor Newsom Signs Anti-Gun Bills into Law

Friday, October 11, 2019

California: Governor Newsom Signs Anti-Gun Bills into Law

Earlier today, Governor Newsom signed the seven anti-gun bills listed below into law.  

Dick’s Spends Big on Gun-Chopping, Virtue-Signaling Bonanza (But It Will Still Sell You a Firearm)

News  

Sunday, October 13, 2019

Dick’s Spends Big on Gun-Chopping, Virtue-Signaling Bonanza (But It Will Still Sell You a Firearm)

Ed Stack, the CEO of Dick’s Sporting Goods, wants you to know he’s committed to keeping AR-15s “off the street.” But he’s also committed (for the time being) to selling other types of firearms.

California: Anti-Gun and Anti-Hunting Bill Signed into Law

Monday, October 14, 2019

California: Anti-Gun and Anti-Hunting Bill Signed into Law

Prior to the October 13 deadline, Governor Newsom signed the final anti-gun and anti-hunting bills, AB 1254 and SB 172 into law.  

Number of Concealed Carry Permit Holders Increased Again

News  

Sunday, October 13, 2019

Number of Concealed Carry Permit Holders Increased Again

Last week, economist John Lott of the Crime Prevention Research Center released “Concealed Carry Permit Holders Across the United States: 2019,” his annual report on the number of concealed carry permit holders in the U.S.

Member Spotlight: Meet the Police Officer Who Told Congress She ‘Would Not Comply' with a Gun Ban

News  

Friday, October 4, 2019

Member Spotlight: Meet the Police Officer Who Told Congress She ‘Would Not Comply' with a Gun Ban

Last week, a retired Tulsa, Oklahoma law enforcement officer testified in a Congressional hearing that she “would not comply” if Congress passes a ban on firearms. Her bold assertion earned her national media attention and ...

Virginia’s Anti-gun Politicians Put Politics Before Fighting Gun Crime

News  

Sunday, October 13, 2019

Virginia’s Anti-gun Politicians Put Politics Before Fighting Gun Crime

Virginia’s anti-gun politicians are serious about attacking law-abiding gun owners, but are indifferent about actual gun crime. As highlighted in a recent report in the Washington Free Beacon by Stephen Gutowski, the Virginia Department of Justice Services ...

Virginia Police Chief Advocates Ban on All Guns at U.S. House “Assault Weapons” Hearing

News  

Friday, September 27, 2019

Virginia Police Chief Advocates Ban on All Guns at U.S. House “Assault Weapons” Hearing

On Sept. 25, the Democrat-led U.S. House Judiciary Committee held a 3 ½ hour “hearing” entitled “Protecting America From Assault Weapons.” That framing of the issue underscored the erroneous notion that Americans need protection from ...

Grassroots Spotlight: NRA-ILA Fighting the Bloomberg Money In Virginia 2019 Elections

News  

Sunday, October 13, 2019

Grassroots Spotlight: NRA-ILA Fighting the Bloomberg Money In Virginia 2019 Elections

The Nov. 5th election may be the most consequential ever for our Second Amendment rights in the Commonwealth. That’s because every seat in the Virginia House of Delegates and Senate is up for grabs and gun control ...

Kamala Harris and Her Perplexing Anti-Gun Ideas

News  

Friday, August 2, 2019

Kamala Harris and Her Perplexing Anti-Gun Ideas

U.S. Senator Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), one of the two-dozen Democrat presidential hopefuls vying to take on President Donald Trump in 2020, has been promoting her anti-gun platform for many months. This isn’t really news, as ...

Guide To The Interstate Transportation Of Firearms

Gun Laws  

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Guide To The Interstate Transportation Of Firearms

CAUTION: Federal and state firearms laws are subject to frequent change. This summary is not to be considered as legal advice or a restatement of law.

MORE TRENDING +
LESS TRENDING -

More Like This From Around The NRA

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.