“A Philadelphia mother of two is facing three years in prison after she mistakenly entered New Jersey, where she was stopped for a traffic violation and found in possession of a handgun loaded with hollow-point bullets,” foxnews.com reports. A number of readers emailed this story. To a man, they consider it an outrage that a mother – a mother! – should be looking at jail time for the “innocent” mistake of assuming the New Jersey honored her Pennsylvania concealed carry permit. “The gun charge was not proper to begin with at all,” her attorney, Evan Nappen, told FoxNews.com, echoing our Armed Intelligentsia’s take on the matter. “She made an honest mistake.” No and maybe . . .
The charge is perfectly proper, legally speaking. By carrying her .380 Bersa Thunder loaded with cop killer bullets [/sarc] into the Garden State, Shaneen Allen broke the law. Like Rhode Island, New Jersey does not honor any other state’s concealed carry permit. Nobody’s. The law sucks, but there it is.
As far as the “honest mistake” part of the statement’s concerned, it’s entirely possible Ms. Allen didn’t know diddly about New Jersey’s carry laws. To their state’s credit, Pennsylvania residents don’t have to take a concealed carry course to get their concealed weapon permit. And Allen ratted herself out to the cop who pulled her over for a dangerous lane change.
But, as we all know, or should know, ignorance is no excuse under the law. As the Brits would say, the New Jersey Old Bill got her dead to rights, mate. So, is it an “honest mistake” or a “stupid mistake”? Yes. Yes it was. But as much as I support Ms. Allen’s case – highlighting as it does the injustice of any gun law that centers on prohibition – the most important takeaway here is don’t let this happen to you!
Firearms laws are a nightmare. They vary from state to state – in terms of where, when, how and what you can carry. Falling afoul of these laws is expensive, time-consuming and potentially catastrophic. Even if the prosecutor bows to public pressure and walks down the charges against Ms. Allen, odds are she’s going to lose her gun rights in the Keystone State. Forever. If she ever needs that Bersa to defend herself or her kids, she won’t have it.
Or maybe she will. There are hundreds of thousands of otherwise law-abiding Americans keeping and/or bearing firearms illegally. Far be it for me to tell someone who can’t get the state’s permission to exercise their natural, civil and Constitutionally protected right to keep and bear arms that they should leave themselves disarmed in the face of a potential deadly threat. BUT –
If you have a choice, don’t carry illegally, whether intentionally or unintentionally. Know your state’s laws. Know the laws of the states you’re visiting. Don’t take any one website’s word on firearms law; triple check the information. Know where the state lines are (seriously). And finally, don’t do anything stupid to draw police attention to yourself. Don’t speed, cut people off, argue with strangers, etc.
Again, Ms. Allen has my sympathy. I have a feeling she’s going to become a poster child for pro-gunners’ fight for firearms freedom in general, and national reciprocity in specific. But she is not a role model.