Shaneen Allen is a gainfully employed nurse, single mother, and is lawfully licensed to carry a gun in her home town of Philadelphia. However, when she traveled through New Jersey and got pulled over for a traffic violation she ended up in a position where she could face 11 years in prison at worst and 3 years at best. Possession of an unlicensed gun in New Jersey carries with it a mandatory three year jail sentence.
All this is despite the fact that Allen readily owned up to having the gun in her car when the officer stopped her and all this apparently being a misunderstanding on her part since she didn’t know the license didn’t apply in Jersey (though she should have). Here’s what my9NJ reported:
Allen was charged with unlawful possession of a weapon and possession of hallow-point bullets which were in the gun. Under New Jersey gun laws, the illegal possession of a gun is a second-degree felony which holds a minimum sentence of three-years in prison.
Allen’s Attorney Evan Nappen feels that the judge doesn’t have a lot of discretion in this particular case.
“We’re talking about a law-abiding, licensed person who did nothing wrong. She is now facing three-years minimum mandatory, where the judge has no discretion, in state’s prison,” he said.
Allen has no criminal record and only owned the gun for a week. So far the Atlantic County Prosecutor has denied her entry into a diversionary program that would allow her to avoid jail time.
So, an otherwise law abiding citizen is now about to be a convicted felon simply because she’d been mugged several times, works late, and wanted to protect herself and her family. New Jersey has every right to make whatever gun laws they want to make but, regardless of reasoning, they’re draconian. Despite these draconian laws, Camden, NJ still has a murder rate 12x the national average so maybe sending otherwise law abiding mistake makers to prison isn’t going to solve the problem.
And this isn’t the first time New Jersey has been happy to send people to jail simply for making a mistake. Back in 2005, a man with a conceal and carry permit from Utah missed his flight to Allentown, PA while in New Jersey and was forced to spend the night there. He was re-issued his legally checked gun by the airport and took it to the hotel with him. The next morning, he returned to the airport and tried to check his gun again where he was promptly arrested for possession of a gun without a New Jersey license.
Go, mindless zero tolerance laws! Ruining lives every day with nothing to show for it. Now these two kids will likely be without their mother for 3 years or she might not see them again for a decade.