Shaneen Allen, a single mother of two young children, had a concealed carry permit in her home state of Pennsylvania. But when she crossed the line into New Jersey and was pulled over for a minor traffic infraction, the ensuing discovery of her weapon, which she disclosed to the officer, meant she was facing a mandatory 3-5 year sentence in prison if convicted. Allen worked as a phlebotomist in Pennsylvania and had been robbed twice during the course of the year, leading her to purchase a firearm to protect her family. She had no prior convictions.
Gun activists rushed to her defense upon her arrest. She made bail after 40 days and then awaited a possible felony charge. The county in question agreed to let her attend a pre-trial intervention class— an alternative to prosecution for first-time offenders—setting a useful new precedent that will now allow those who are legal gun owners in other states to use this alternative route instead of being turned into felons when they cross the state line.
Gov. Chris Christie has granted a pardon to Shaneen Allen, the Pennsylvania mother and gun owner who was arrested in October 2013 for carrying a concealed weapon into New Jersey.
Her attorney, Evan Knappen, of Eatontown, said the Allen case lead to the Office of the Attorney General issuing new guidelines that allow people who are legally entitled to carry firearms in their home states to enter diversionary programs instead of heading directly to a Garden State prison if charged with violating state law.
“It was quite a fight for her down there in Atlantic County, and it led to significant changes,” Knappen said. “Hundreds of folks were helped by her case…It’s a little absurd to take someone who’s a law abiding citizen in their home state but then put them into a New Jersey state prison for a mandatory 3 to 5 year sentence and make them a felon.”
Christie, in signing the pardon, cleared Allen on the gun possession charge as well as a related ammunition charge.
Christie’s pardon represents the end of the saga. It is, Christie wrote, “a full and free pardon for all criminal charges and indictments arising from the arrest occurring October 1, 2013.” Thus has the slate been wiped clean. Hurrah. Now to change those laws . . .
Congrats, Shaneen Allen, after a very rough couple of years of uncertainty and fear and good job to all the 2nd-Amendment and other activists who kept the prosecutor under pressure.