Members of the Legal Insurrection community will be familiar with the travails of Pennsylvania nurse and single-mom of two Shaneen Allen under the heel of New Jersey’s unconscionable anti-Second Amendment laws, as we covered the matter here in some detail, including PA Nurse Arrested on Gun Charges Given Reprieve (9/24/14) and The Memo that let Shaneen Allen — and Chris Christie’s political future — off the hook (9/29/14).

In brief, Ms. Allen was in possession of a PA-issued concealed carry permit and a handgun when she drove across the Delaware and into New Jersey.  Pulled over for a routine traffic stop, Allen volunteered to the officer that she was in possession of the handgun.  She mistakenly believed that her PA concealed carry permit, like her PA driver’s license, was legally valid in both states.

The New Jersey authorities quickly disabused her of that notion, charged her with illegal possession of a handgun, threatened the mother of two small children with a multiple-year mandatory jail sentence, and refused to allow her to enter a diversion program for non-violent first-time offenders (the same program into which football star and wife knock-out puncher Ray Rice would be readily admitted without hesitation just months later).

After months of focused attention from the National Rifle Association, renowned gun law attorney Evan Nappen, and the entire of the Second Amendment advocacy blogosphere–and with NJ Governor Chris Christie seeing his Presidential aspirations rapidly sinking–a sudden change was made and Allen was allowed into the diversion program, thus avoiding jail time and a criminal conviction.

A similar miraculous escape from New Jersey’s draconian gun laws was managed for a retired school teacher who found himself facing felony charges and the loss of his pension after being found with a 300-year-old flintlock pistol in the glove compartment of the car in which he was riding (the gun was his; he was a collector who had just purchased it, but New Jersey gun law explicitly prohibits unlicensed possession of even flintlocks).  We covered that case here:  Charges Dropped Against NJ Teacher Caught with Flintlock.

One can only speculate if the Governor’s office brought pressure to bear in that case, as well.

Today, Christie took the somewhat remarkable step of issuing Shaneen Allen “a full and free pardon for all criminal charges and indictments arising from the arrest occurring October 1, 2013.”  Here’s an image of the pardon letter:

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This action, while warranted, seems unlikely to solve Christie’s longer “gun control” problem. The New Jersey legislature is controlled by the Democrats, and is well aware of the discomfort they can cause the Governor on this issue.  Accordingly, they are aggressively moving through committee even more punitive gun control legislation, advancing it to the Governor’s desk where he can face the difficult choice of either signing it into law–thus almost certainly losing any hope for a Presidential nomination–or vetoing the law, and thus degrading his moral standing within New Jersey, whose residents have elected an overwhelmingly antigun legislature.

–-Andrew, @LawSelfDefense


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Andrew F. Branca is an MA lawyer and the author of the seminal book “The Law of Self Defense, 2nd Edition,” available at the Law of Self Defense blog (autographed copies available) and Amazon.com (paperback and Kindle). He also holds Law of Self Defense Seminars around the country, and provides free online self-defense law video lectures at the Law of Self Defense Institute and podcasts through iTunes, Stitcher, and elsewhere.