Mom Tells N.J. Officer She Has a Gun; Faces Prison for Gun Charge - FindLaw Blotter
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Mom Tells N.J. Officer She Has a Gun; Faces Prison for Gun Charge

A single mom from Philadelphia is facing serious prison time for volunteering to a New Jersey officer at a traffic stop that she had a licensed handgun in her car.

Unfortunately for Shaneen Allen, 27, her Pennsylvania concealed carry permit isn't recognized in New Jersey, and she was arrested and charged with "unlawful possession of a weapon and armor penetrating bullets," reports Philadelphia's WCAU-TV. The incident occurred last October, but Allen has a court date set for August 5.

Why is the Garden State being so hard on this Philly mom?

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Concealed-Carry Permit Doesn't Travel

What many gun owners like Shaneen Allen don't know is that there is no legal obligation for a state to honor out-of-state concealed-carry permits. According to the National Rifle Association's Institute for Legislative Action, New Jersey doesn't recognize handgun permits from any other state. That means despite having a legal carry permit for her Bersa Thunder .380 handgun in Pennsylvania, Allen had no legal right to carry the same weapon into New Jersey.

Some states require that licensed handgun holders inform an officer immediately upon being detained that they have a firearm. Pennsylvania law doesn't require proof of legal permit for a weapon unless lawfully demanded by an officer. Neither does New Jersey.

So by speaking out upon being pulled over, Allen may have shot herself in the foot.

Illegal Ammunition

According to WCAU, Allen's handgun was allegedly found loaded with hollow-point bullets, which are strictly regulated in New Jersey. In the Garden State, this special type of ammunition cannot be possessed legally outside private property. If this ammo is being transported, it must be held in a locked container other than the glove compartment, and it must not be loaded in a firearm.

Allen's attorney told WCAU that she purchased the gun "roughly a week before her arrest" after being robbed twice in 2013.

Mandatory Minimums

Allen is facing a potential three-year prison sentence because of the mandatory minimums set for New Jersey's gun offenses, which were recently amended by the Graves Act. Because of these laws, Allen faces a minimum of three years in prison if convicted.

The mother of two was also denied a chance to participate in the state's Pre-Trial Intervention program, which could have reduced her charges and allowed for probation and/or community service.

This situation leaves Allen more or less at the mercy of harsh gun laws, and the general ignorance of their application.

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