27 year-old Shaneen Allen wanted to protect her family. She took a gun safety course, applied for and was granted a concealed carry permit and she purchased a gun.
“One of my family members, he thought it was appropriate for me to get one because I’m a single mother and I have two children and I work two jobs and I work late and getting up at that time of night I got robbed twice last year and he felt the need for me to get my license to protect me and my kids,” Allen explained.
However, while Allen, from Philadelphia, was covered to carry a gun in Pennsylvania, she made the mistake of crossing into New Jersey with the weapon and now she’s facing a mandatory minimum of three-years in jail.
Allen said that she didn’t know her permit didn’t apply to New Jersey so when she was stopped for a minor traffic offense she told the police about her gun and her permit to carry. In this case, being honest may have cost her.
“The judge tried to tell me that telling the truth messed me up, my life up and the cop said the same thing. Me opening my mouth and speaking out he said I’m one out of ten people that spoke up and was honest and that got me in trouble,” she said.
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.
The case is still moving forward but the question remains, will New Jersey’s tough gun laws take a young woman who wanted protection from criminals and instead force her to become one?