New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s pardon of Shaneen Allen last Thursday put an end to an 18-month nightmare in which overzealous government officials attempted to ruin an individual’s life just to send an anti-gun message to those visiting the state.
As you’ll likely recall, Allen is the Pittsburg, Pa., single mother who took her handgun, which she was licensed to carry in Pennsylvania, into New Jersey without being aware of the onerous anti-gun laws there. Following a traffic stop, she was arrested and spent 46 days in jail, away from her two young children, before she was able to make bail. (See the October 2014 America’s 1st Freedom feature here.)
Allen’s attorney, Evan Nappen, pled with prosecutors to place her into the state’s Pretrial Intervention Program (PTI) designed for first-time offenders. That’s the same program NFL star Ray Rice was allowed to enter after beating his girlfriend unconscious on an elevator—an act that was caught on surveillance video.
Choosing instead to make an example of Allen, Atlantic County Prosecutor Jim McClain originally denied the request. After all, doing so would put the story on the back burner, giving him little opportunity to grandstand about the gun-hating nature of many within New Jersey state government.
Unfortunately for McClain, widespread public outrage—not just in New Jersey, but from across the country—finally pressured him to reconsider and allow Allen to enter the PTI program and avoid a nearly certain three-plus years in prison.
The entire Shaneen Allen saga reeks of ugly political elitism, where a powerful government attorney uses public funds in an attempt to bury a law-abiding gun owner for making a simple mistake. And while Gov. Christie’s pardon thankfully put an end to the public side of this unnecessary nightmare, the damage done to Allen and her family from a year and a half of persecution will likely last a lifetime.
Allen’s story is one of many that make the case for national right-to-carry reciprocity, which would allow any person with a valid carry permit or license issued by a state to carry a concealed firearm in any other state that does not prohibit concealed carry. Had such a law been in effect in 2013, none of us would have ever heard of Allen, and her life would not have been torn apart.
Four NRA-supported right-to-carry reciprocity measures have been introduced in the U.S. House and U.S. Senate already this session. You can contact your U.S. senators and U.S. representative by phone at (202) 224-3121, or by using the “Write Your Lawmakers” form at NRA-ILA.org.