Atlantic County Prosecutor Jim McClain reversed his previous decision and allowed Allen to enter the state’s pre-trial intervention program (PTI), which lets first-time offenders partake in supervised rehabilitative programs and services in place of prosecution and a criminal record.
McClain’s shift comes after acting New Jersey Attorney General John Hoffman sent county prosecutors guidelines for enforcing New Jersey’s strict gun laws for law-abiding out-of-state visitors who break them by mistake, such as Allen. Allen was arrested after mistakenly bringing a lawfully permitted gun into the state and voluntarily informing a police officer of the weapon during a routine traffic stop.
Hoffman advised taking a lenient approach in these scenarios, writing: “In most of these cases, imprisonment is neither necessary nor appropriate to serve the interests of justice and protect public safety.”
This reversal was welcome news for gun rights supporters everywhere -- and for Shaneen Allen especially. The decision means that Allen won’t be separated from her children because of a silly misunderstanding. It means that she can begin rebuilding her life.
If there is a silver lining Ms. Allen’s situation, it is that her case brought national attention to New Jersey’s horrible gun restrictions and also to the need for nationwide concealed carry reciprocity legislation. Already, New Jersey legislators have proposed “Shaneen’s Law” to protect out-of-state gun owners from this kind of prosecution. The federal equivalent of the law – the Right-to-Carry Reciprocity Act of 2013 – is also up for consideration.
Hopefully, Shaneen Allen’s misfortune will help politicians realize the pain that can be caused by persecuting law abiding gun owners.