Earlier today, Katie wrote about Shaneen Allen, a firearm owner from Pennsylvania who ventured into New Jersey, got caught, and now faces up to ten years in prison. She's a single mother with two sons. Allen bought a handgun after she was robbed twice; she also has a concealed carry permit. Before this incident, she was a law-abiding citizen. Yet, one must wonder why New Jersey courts think owning a gun is worse than beating your wife (via Glenn Reynolds/ USA Today):
When Ray Rice beat his wife unconscious in an elevator, New Jersey Superior Court Judge Michael Donio and New Jersey District Attorney Jim McClain agreed to put him in a diversion program for 1st-time offenders to keep him out of jail. But when Pennsylvania single mom Shaneen Allen was pulled over for a traffic violation and volunteered to a New Jersey police officer that she was carrying a legally-owned handgun with a Pennsylvania permit, the response of Donis and McClain was to deny her the same opportunity as Rice.
Both Donio and McClain have been unwilling to dismiss the charges, or send Allen to a pretrial diversion program. They seem to want to make an example of her.
The problem is, she's being punished for something the Constitution says -- and the Supreme Court has agreed -- is a constitutional right. And the super-stiff penalties and abusive prosecution she's experiencing are pretty clearly intended to chill people from exercising that right. The Washington Post's Radley Balko quotes anti-gun activist Bryan Miller gloating over this result: "Fortunately, the notoriety of this case will make it less likely Pennsylvanians will carry concealed and loaded handguns in New Jersey, thereby making them and the Garden State safer from gun violence,"
As Reynolds noted, Allen wasn’t going into the Dirty Jerz to commit gun violence. That's abjectly insane, Mr. Miller.
At the same time, any concealed carry permit holders living in the eastern part of the country knows not to venture into the Garden State with their firearms. North Carolina is the only state on the east coast that has reciprocity agreement with New Jersey. Vermont residents are recognized as well, although the state has constitutional carry, which doesn’t require their residents to obtain permits to open or conceal carry; this is how the Second Amendment should be exercised daily.
Allen broke the law, but this is a first time offense and usually there’s some latitude for such mistakes. Nevertheless, in New Jersey, it seems wife beating is less of a crime, which is horrifying.