Friday, August 15, 2014

Guns, Common Decency and Common Sense: The Shaneen Allen Case

This post is to urge immediate action on behalf of one Shaneen Allen, a peaceful and law abiding mother of two who is facing a long term prison sentence in New Jersey if convicted.
As explained, Ms. Allen is a licensed handgun owner in Pennsylvania with no criminal record.  Ms. Allen obtained a gun permit in her home state because she, herself, was a two time crime victim.  Like many of us, she simply wanted to provide her family with the protection that the police cannot give.
While on the way to the Jersey Shore, Ms. Allen was pulled over for a routine traffic violation.  She gave the police officer her both her driver’s license and her gun license.  She was unaware that her PA license did not apply in the Garden State and this has landed her in a world of trouble.
She is facing the prospect of long term prison time.  Her kids are facing childhood without a mother at home.
I am asking for your help in three ways:
1.       Help us to publicize her plight.  Please feel free to use the letter below as a template to pass along on social media, send to media outlets and to elected officials.  If you are from out of state, write to Governor Chris Christie as he has national political ambitions.    Please click here for the e-mail addresses of the Governor and other relevant New Jersey officials.  Let them know America is watching.
2.       Donate to her defense.  Click here to contribute.
3.       To avoid this situation in the future, please contact you elected federal representatives and demand that they support reciprocity of carry licenses from state to state.

The following is the text of the message that I sent to Governor Christie and then modified for other recipients.  Feel free to use any or all of it:

“Dear Sir,

I am sure that by now you are aware of the Shaneen Allen case.  Ms. Allen is a peaceful, law abiding Pennsylvania resident.  She is a mother of two and an employed health care worker.   Allen is also a crime victim who obtained a Pennsylvania gum license in order to protect herself and her children.

Ms Allen was pulled aside for a lane change violation on the way to the Jersey Shore and gave the police officer both her driver’s and handgun licenses as the law requires.  She was unaware of New Jersey’s gun carry laws and therefore made a couple of innocent mistakes.

New Jersey requires that guns be carried unloaded and contained in a closed and fastened case, gun box or securely tied package or locked in the trunk. The state also imposes strict limits on how and where weapons can be transported, and it doesn't recognize carry permits issued by other states.

As an officer of the peace, whose sworn duty is to protect and serve the people, the policeman may have exercised a bit of discretion and judgment.   Perhaps the officer could have advised her of her mistake.  Perhaps he could have impounded her weapon and ammunition.  Instead he arrested her.

The local prosecutor could have also shown some common sense and decency.  He may have given her a stern warning and arranged to have her gun sent back to Pennsylvania at her expense.  No, he wants to go to trail and put this peaceful mom behind bars for three and a half years.  How does he think that this will help her two kids who will be without a mother for a large chunk of their childhood?

Governor Christie, please show some compassion, common sense and decency and weigh in on this case and to stop the madness.  Putting this woman behind bars is not justice.  It is criminal and the people who are perpetrating this miscarriage of justice are criminals themselves.”

We are a nation of laws and no one, including Ms. Allen herself, denies that she is in violation of New Jersey statute.  Therefore let me close with this passage from John Locke’s Two Treatises of Government on the prerogative of the executive and his magistrates:

"(A) man may come sometimes within the reach of the law, which makes no distinction of persons, by an action that may deserve reward and pardon; 'tis fit the ruler should have a power, in many cases, to mitigate the severity of the law, and pardon some offenders: for the end of government being the preservation of all, as much as may be, even the guilty are to be spared , where it can prove no prejudice to the innocent.

This power to act according to discretion, for the public good, without the prescription of the law, and sometimes even against it, is that which is called prerogative: for since in some governments the law -making power is not always in being, and is usually too numerous, and so too slow, for the dispatch requisite to execution; and because also it is impossible to foresee, and so by laws to provide for, all accidents and necessities that may concern the public , or to make such laws as will do no harm, if they are executed with an inflexible rigor, on all occasions, and upon all persons that may come in their way; therefore there is a latitude left to the executive power, to do many things of choice which the laws do not prescribe."

In so many words, let’s show little bit of commonsense, common decency and compassion here.  Why destroy a life and a family over a technicality?

Related Posts:

Blessed Are The Peacemakers
God, Guns And Misplaced Faith
A Well Regulated Militia
D.C. Gun Ban Lifted

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