Gun bill would give N.J. judges leeway
Assemblyman Ronald Dancer (R., Ocean) introduced "Shaneen's Law" in response to the case of Shaneen Allen. The South Philadelphia woman faces charges for carrying a gun in New Jersey, which does not recognize permits to carry firearms issued by other states. She is legally allowed to carry the gun in Pennsylvania.
Dancer said current laws impose a minimum 31/2-year sentence on out-of-state residents violating New Jersey's gun laws. It is unreasonable, he said, for people to know the gun laws in each state.
The bill would give judges discretion in cases involving out-of-state residents who have no criminal record, are not associated with street gangs, and are in compliance with their home state's gun laws, Dancer said.
She was charged in October following a traffic stop on the Atlantic City Expressway. Allen was on her way to Atlantic City for her son's birthday party, and was stopped by a state trooper about 1 a.m. for a traffic violation.
Allen voluntarily handed over the loaded firearm, which was in her purse, during the stop. She had earlier given the officer her Pennsylvania gun permit when she showed her driver's license.
Allen said she had purchased the gun because she felt unsafe in her neighborhood after being robbed and beaten last year. She has admitted that she was unaware of the law that made it illegal for her to bring the .38-caliber Bersa Thunder handgun into the state. The gun has two safety locks and a trigger lock.
Earlier this month, a Superior Court judge refused to drop charges against Allen. Judge Michael Donio also refused to overturn an Atlantic County Prosecutor's Office decision that denied Allen the opportunity to enter New Jersey's pretrial intervention program, which would have allowed her to avoid jail time.
Inquirer staff writer Jacqueline L. Urgo contributed to this article.