Shaneen Allen will not serve jail time, says prosecutor

Perhaps it was the public pressure from gun-rights advocates, perhaps it was the comparisons that journalists made between this case and the Ray Rice case, perhaps it was the National Rifle Association and its viral videos on the matter, or perhaps it was a combination of all three, but whatever it was common sense finally sunk in and Atlantic Count Prosecutor Jim McClain has changed his tune with respect to Shaneen Allen, the mother of two and licensed Pennsylvania concealed carry permit holder who faced felony charges and up to ten years in prison for accidentally carrying her firearm into New Jersey.

As mentioned, we’ll probably never know what really made McClain change his mind, but on Wednesday he issued a press release in which he talked about why he is now letting Ms. Allen bypass prison and enter the pre-trail intervention program, something he initially refused to do citing his desire to make the case a “deterrent” to others:

On September 24, 2014, the Office of the Attorney General released a clarification
of the 2008 “Graves Act” Directive, which deals with those situations in which an
out-of-state resident who holds a valid permit to carry a firearm within his or her
home state is arrested in New Jersey and charged with illegal possession of a
firearm under New Jersey law. This clarification was issued following a
comprehensive review by the Office of the Attorney General of New Jersey’s
firearms possession laws, as well as consultation by the Office of the Attorney
General with each of the 21 county prosecutors. The resulting clarification to the
2008 directive is a reasoned and considered effort to ensure consistent treatment
of similarly situated defendants throughout the state.

In applying the factors set out in the clarification, I determined that the defendant in
this case should be offered the opportunity to be admitted into the Atlantic County
PTI Program and I have communicated that determination to the Court and to
defense counsel.

In the next few weeks, I will review similar cases that are pending within our
jurisdiction and make appropriate decisions following the application of the factors
set out in the clarification.

Yes, that’s what they call a 180. What we’re supposed to believe is that the state attorney general weighed in, as did other county prosecutors, to clarify the law with respect to CCW holders accidentally bringing firearms across the border. Sure, that’s true, but what McClain is not acknowledging is what prompted the review of the law: the collective outcry from 2A advocates, journalists and the NRA. Had no one raised awareness about Ms. Allen’s plight, there’s little doubt that McClain would have prosecuted her to the fullest extent of the law, slapping her with a felony and putting her behind bars.

What makes sense in these situations, which let’s be honest happen from time to time, is that a slap on the wrist is warranted, as state Attorney General John J. Hoffman intimated in his clarification of the law, noting that “imprisonment is neither necessary nor appropriate to serve the interests of justice and protect public safety.”

Exactly. Why jail an otherwise law-abiding citizen for making an honest mistake? It doesn’t make sense. But when it comes to the treatment of gun owners in this country, in many states their is an institutional hostility toward us, a desire to abandon reason, equal protection under the law and make criminals out of the law-abiding. Hopefully, the NRA is correct that Shaneen Allen is a “crusader of change” and that her arrest leads injudicious cops, feckless prosecutors and irrational lawmakers around the country to rethink the way they treat gun owners. But I remain skeptical. If anything, I fear it may only harden their resolve to come after us.

{ 19 comments… add one }
  • Ron Stidham August 23, 2017, 12:10 pm

    Sounds eerily like a reeducation camp to me!

  • Dusty September 29, 2014, 8:13 pm

    Being a resident of the great state of Arizona, I have a CCW permit, (altho not required anymore), I was taught during my 20 years of military service that people make mistakes. This is different than accidents. The number 1 truth in this is that there are no such things AS ACCIDENTS. Only “ACTS-OF-GOD or ACTS-OF-STUPIDITY”

  • Dan September 29, 2014, 1:46 pm

    Being a new owner of a firearm, she was probably unaware of the FOPA requirements for interstate transportation of a weapon. Firearm unloaded, locked up, and inaccessible would have probably prevented her arrest. NJ probably would want to see some sort of documentation showing lawful possession at her destination within the state. Federal reciprocity similar to drivers licenses would go a long way in avoiding this situation. Vote for representatives in Congress to support this legislation. Maryland, where I live, is a lost cause so I am depending on the rest of the states to help make this happen.

  • Beachhawk September 29, 2014, 1:03 pm

    This is the reason we need a Federal reciprocity law that says a lawfully license concealed weapons permit holder should be able to carry his or her weapon in any state of the Union. I don’t need a New Jersey driver license, because I have a Florida license. I can drive in any state with that driver license. Since I am properly licensed to carry a concealed weapon, why can’t I carry my pistol in any state as well? No being able to carry in certain states, makes no sense and leads to problems like the one experienced by Shaneen Allen.

    • Moishe September 30, 2014, 2:05 am

      Exactly. Great point. But with Obama as president and Harry Reid as Senate majority leader, it unfortunately probably won’t pass for a long time.

    • dink winkerson September 30, 2014, 10:11 am

      NO, WE NEED TO ABOLISH THE LAWS THAT RESTRICT CARRYING ALL TOGETHER. The constitution is our licence to carry.

    • Steve A. October 4, 2014, 3:46 pm

      I agree. problem is, all states have different requirements for getting a concealed permit(such as number of hours of classroom training, whether or not they have to actually have range time and fire the gun, and for how long, etc.) and each state has different laws in regards to carrying firearms. though i also agree with dink winkerson that we shouldn’t need a license to carry concealed weapons, especially when in most places you don’t need one to open carry. i suppose they could even make a special license that would be good for every state, and just make the requirements to get it stricter, so that they meet the minimum requirements of every state. though again, the more licenses they make, the more they feel they can legislate away our second amendment rights, and the more control they feel they have. i dunno, it’s tough.

  • dink winkerson September 29, 2014, 12:54 pm


  • Watchdogman September 29, 2014, 12:24 pm

    New Jersey? Is that the state with the Idiot prosecutor and fat Gov? Home of the Mafia and home of Liberals that are idiots. That NJ?

  • Scott September 29, 2014, 9:14 am

    Accidental, accidental, accidental…I am tired of hearing this word used in relation to the Shaneen Allen case. Just as there are no accidental discharges only negligent ones, Ms. Allen did not accidentally bring her firearm into the state of New Jersey… she negligently brought it there. She did not do her due diligence and learn the laws that were applicable to her situation. Just as I believe politicians need to have a greater respect for the law (I know I’m dreaming) because they make the law and take an oath to uphold it we as CCW permit holders and or pro-gun advocates need to be above reproach in relation to gun issues. I wish it weren’t this way but I live in the real world and know how the liberal left will seize on any opportunity to promote their left wing agenda. Ms. Allen was wrong. Did she need to go to be prosecuted and possibly go to jail…no. Does she need to be held accountable for her actions…absolutely? Was the prosecutor overzealous…Obviously? Was the cop wrong…absolutely not? He was doing exactly what he was paid to do. Just think of the price he and society would be paying if Ms. Allen had in fact been a domestic terrorist and went on to do some type of horrific act. I am not suggesting that Ms. Allen would or intended to do anything horrific only that in retrospect it was a possibility. After many of the acts of domestic violence, terrorism, etc. how often do we hear…Oh…he/she was so quiet…just the perfect neighbor, friend, etc. We hire and pay our police officers to enforce the law. They are not the judge and jury. Now the prosecutor is another story. He is paid to use his judgement or in this case…”lack of judgment”. The prosecutor certainly caused Ms. Allen to pay a price not in concert with her deed. Would I vote for this prosecutor…absolutely not.
    Anyway, I am glad that the powers-at-be came to their senses. Great job to all that applied pressure in order to get a just outcome.

    • Administrator September 29, 2014, 9:24 am

      This lawyer speak is a perfect example of people who are simply ignorant and think that if they say the same thing over and over again it will become true. Accidents happen. We all make bad mistakes in life. When guns are involved and it is politically beneficial simple mistakes are turned by the media and the district attorneys into national stories.

      Your “negligence” language is something you should think more about before bantering it about. Over 1500 kids per year die from putting a plastic supermarket bag over their heads. Are those parents negligent? What about swimming pools, or, like Mike Tyson’s kid, treadmills. We have a column called “teachable moments” because mistakes happen and accidents happen, and they aren’t usually negligent.

    • David September 29, 2014, 10:01 am

      @Scott- spot on, my exact thoughts also. I would like to know how the arresting officers knew she was carrying. If she was blatantly showing her weapon then she needs to be taught more about CCL protocol. I never “forget” I have my protection with me. There are so many locations that you are prohibited from entering even with a CCL that it seems almost impossible to forget where you are headed.

      • jp2012 September 29, 2014, 12:12 pm

        She informed him she had the gun in her purse as she was instructed to do. She was not waving it around as you imply.

    • 10horses September 29, 2014, 10:19 am

      Negligent? Really? So she made a mistake?! I hope the author of this left-wing BS has a moment of clarity and realizes Shaneen wasn’t “caught”–she volunteered! that she had a weapon! The over-zealous gestapo should have thanked her for being forth-coming but, no!, He had to goose-step her in like a common thug. One can only hope he is in a situation where a law-abiding, gun-carrying citizen has the opportunity to save his life with a legally carried weapon but, after second thought decides not to because he or she too would lose their life style for untold pain and years! And while we’re at it, I’m tired of hearing arm-chair quarterbacks like you discuss things they are not qualified to talk about. Go drink some Democratic Kool-Aid and leave the rest of us alone!

    • Robert Bostick September 29, 2014, 12:00 pm

      All CCW carriers should be required as part of your training to get one of several publications available that specifically list the carry laws in each state and thus advise you where you can legally carry and where you can’t. Pick up any gun related magazine and you will see the ads for them. Or you might look in the book section at WalMart where I found my latest one. For $12 to $20 you can avoid a lot of trouble.

  • smoke September 29, 2014, 9:05 am

    She lost her firearm.She lost her job. She has all kinds of legal fees to pay. Her bills are so far behind, it will take her forever to catch up,the separation from her children. It is endless. If fat ass christie would get these laws corrected or at least get off his ass and step in and not let this shit happen to people.

    • BRAD FLETCHER September 29, 2014, 9:28 pm

      Indeed! Christie must do the right thing in this woman’s case.

      If he does not then Piss On Him! Such cowardice speaks volumes.

      OK, fatass – what’s it going to be?

  • Tony 2Wolves September 29, 2014, 9:05 am

    Politicians and big money have raped and robbed the citizens of the United States and they are scared to death the citizens will figure out what has been done to them. The above mentioned criminals want the people unarmed so they will not be afraid of them. They want us disarmed out of their well deserved fear. Why do you think they all have armed security 24/7? Because they are afraid and their fear is driven by their guilty conscience. The federal judiciary has minimized most of our Constitutional Protections because they are appointed by the politicians and big money people. They serve their master! Only a pack of lawyers cold twist plain language found in the Constitution to mean the opposite of the founding fathers intent. The Commerce Clause is a perfect example as it is used to LIMIT INTERSTATE COMMERCE (such as firearms) when it was written to guarantee FREE TRADE AMONG ALL OF THE STATES. Proof the federal judges rule based on their personal feelings is the fact most of the Supreme Court rulings are 4 to 5. None of them care what the Constitution says, all they care about is pushing their own view point. If this were not the case then how cold 9 highly educated individuals come to such diverse conclusions. I must say it one more time, We Have the Best Government Money Can Buy!

  • rick September 29, 2014, 8:57 am

    If a state can take away or restrict your 2a rights by taxing your rights by banning your rights or making you get permission ie background checks to participate in the right why don’t we insist on the same standards to exercise our right to vote. We should have background checks, poll taxes and of course literary tests to show one is wealthy enough smart enough and legally qualified to vote.

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