Last October, Shaneen Allen, 27, was pulled over in Atlantic County, N.J. The officer who pulled her over says she made an unsafe lane change. During the stop, Allen informed the officer that she was a resident of Pennsylvania and had a conceal carry permit in her home state. She also had a handgun in her car. Had she been in Pennsylvania, having the gun in the car would have been perfectly legal. But Allen was pulled over in New Jersey, home to some of the strictest gun control laws in the United States.
Allen is a black single mother. She has two kids. She has no prior criminal record. Before her arrest, she worked as a phlebologist [note: I think the word is "phlebotomist" - UD]. After she was robbed two times in the span of about a year, she purchased the gun to protect herself and her family. There is zero evidence that Allen intended to use the gun for any other purpose. Yet Allen was arrested. She spent 40 days in jail before she was released on bail. She’s now facing a felony charge that, if convicted, would bring a three-year mandatory minimum prison term.
Balko makes the point that the “gun rights community” – popularly viewed as a bunch of old, fat, rural white guys – would largely ignore Ms. Allen’s story, since she is both urban and black. However, gun rights activists have rallied to Ms. Allen support, pointing out something we’ve been saying for a long time: Stupid, Draconian gun laws disproportionately harm minorities.
What is not being said – at least not very loudly, not yet – is that New Jersey is run by a 2016 GOP presidential hopeful, Chris Christie. This fellow, a favorite of establishment Republicans, whose stance on private ownership of modern weapons seems to be, ahem, somewhat fluid, oversees the state machinery responsible for Ms. Allen’s arrest and incarceration. Prosecutors hope to convict her of a felony that would result in prison time, and bar her from ever legally owning a firearm in the future.
In addition to supporting Ms. Allen in any way you can, I hope you also remember this story, should Chris Christie’s needlessly redundant name appear on primary ballots in your state in 2016.