Prosecutor Gives Up On Jailing Shaneen Allen

We wrote here about the appalling case of Shaneen Allen, a young Pennsylvania woman with a Pennsylvania concealed carry permit who crossed into New Jersey en route to a child’s birthday party. She had her gun in her purse, was stopped for an “unsafe lane change,” and wound up facing up to ten years in prison for bringing her legally-owned gun into New Jersey. The case became a national news story, in part because of the efforts of the NRA. This NRA video tells the story:

The prosecutor in the case, Jim McClain, was adamant about sending Ms. Allen to jail. Happily, he has finally relented:

Atlantic County Prosecutor Jim McClain, who initially refused to approve Allen for a pretrial diversion program, has changed his mind.

McClain cited a memo issued today by acting Attorney General John Hoffman, who told local prosecutors that “imprisonment is neither necessary nor appropriate to serve the interests of justice and protect public safety” in cases like Allen’s. …

Hoffman’s memo looks like a face-saving excuse for McClain, who more than a week ago signaled that he was reconsidering his hard-line approach to Allen’s case, which had attracted nationwide attention.

McClain is the same prosecutor who let Ray Rice off with pretrial diversion. I suspect that he backed down on the Shaneen Allen prosecution in part because he couldn’t explain the discrepancy between her treatment and Rice’s. In any event, it is a happy outcome for her–but one that wouldn’t have happened but for pressure that was exerted by the NRA and many others. If Allen had remained an unknown, she would be on her way to prison.

Which is why, as Glenn Reynolds, has long argued, we need federal legislation to limit the penalties that states can impose for possession of firearms that the possessor is legally entitled to own.