Even though she has no criminal record, Shaneen Allen is facing the possibility of spending three years in prison because she told a police officer in another state she had a legal concealed weapon in her car.
That admission turned a routine traffic stop into a 40-day stay in jail and an ongoing legal nightmare for the single mother.
Allen is facing felony charges in New Jersey of unlawful possession of a weapon and hollow point bullets because she had her legal pistol and bullets in her car when she crossed a state line. The charges carry a mandatory sentence of three years in prison. Allen lives in Pennsylvania where such weapons are legal with a permit, but she was arrested in New Jersey, where they are not. New Jersey law doesn’t recognize out-of-state permits.
“New Jersey’s draconian and crazy gun laws give the judge no discretion here — none,” Allen’s attorney, Evan Nappen, told Fox News. “You will get three years with no chance of parole if you’re convicted of this gun charge. So in the effort of promoting gun control in New Jersey, they’ve created a situation where very sympathetic people get harmed and turned into the victim by gun laws.”
Honesty Got Her In Trouble
Allen’s troubles began on Oct. 1, 2013, when a police officer pulled her over for an illegal lane change in Atlantic County, New Jersey. During the traffic stop Allen made the mistake of voluntarily telling the officer she had a gun in the car and a concealed carry permit.
That admission led to her arrest on a second-degree felony charge of possession of an illegal weapon.
“The officer knew there was a gun there; she was completely honest and open,” Nappen said of Allen’s arrest. “There’s no aggravating factors in this case; she’s a single mom of two, working in the medical field who was robbed twice and that’s what inspired her to get a gun license in the first place.”
Ironically, Nappen had owned the .380 Bersa Thunder pistol for just a week. She was also charged for possessing hollow point bullets, which are legal in Pennsylvania but not New Jersey. After the arrest, Allen spent 40 days in jail; she is currently free on bail but facing a hearing on August 5.
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The Allen case has raised charges of racism. She is black. Around 47.3 percent of the people convicted of violating federal gun control laws are African American, Washington Post columnist Radley Balko noted. Around 12.6 percent of the population of the United States is African American, according to the US Census Bureau. People of color are also more likely to have extra time added to sentences for gun crimes, Balko noted in a recent column.
Not The Only Case
Allen is not the only person who has spent time in a New Jersey prison for carrying a legal gun in a car. A Colorado man named Brian Aitken was sentenced to seven years in prison because he had two unloaded, legally purchased guns in the trunk of his car during a traffic stop in 2009. Fortunately for Aitken, his sentence was commuted by New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, which allowed him to walk free.
In an even crazier case, Floridian John Filippidis had left his gun at home when he drove from Florida to New Jersey, but Maryland police detained him and his family for 90 minutes while they searched his car looking for the weapon, which was legal in his home state.
The moral of the story: Concealed carry permits are worthless in some parts of the country. Know the laws in the state where you’re travelling.
Should concealed carry licenses be recognized in all states? Give us your thoughts in the comments section below.