When Ray Rice beat his wife unconscious in an elevator, New Jersey Superior Court Judge Michael Donio and New Jersey District Attorney Jim McClain agreed to put him in a diversion program for 1st-time offenders to keep him out of jail. But when Pennsylvania single mom Shaneen Allen was pulled over for a traffic violation and volunteered to a New Jersey police officer that she was carrying a legally-owned handgun with a Pennsylvania permit, the response of Donis and McClain was to deny her the same opportunity as Rice.
Allen lives in Philadelphia, right across the river from New Jersey. She has a Pennsylvania permit to carry a handgun. She thought it was recognized in New Jersey, just as it is recognized in over 30 other states. She was wrong. When she told the officer that she had the gun, she was arrested.
Now she faces a felony conviction and a mandatory 42 months in prison.
Reynolds, who teaches law at University of Tennessee, offers up a solution to such cases:
Under the Constitution, Congress has the power to protect civil rights via legislation, and this seems like a good subject for action. I would suggest a law providing that when people who may legally own guns under federal law are charged with possessing or carrying them in violation of state law, the maximum penalty should be a fine of no more than $500. This would allow states a reasonable degree of regulation, without subjecting individuals to life-ruining consequences just because some politico wants to make a point.