Jurisprudence in Atlantic County, New Jersey, has been in the spotlight this year, and it’s not just those of us on the outside who are shaking our heads in disgust.
Two cases in the county have drawn national scorn. NFL star Ray Rice, after being charged with assaulting his fiancée, was allowed to skip his day in court and enter a diversionary program for first-time offenders that will wipe his record clean providing he meets certain conditions. But Shaneen Allen, a single mom from Philadelphia who possesses a Pennsylvania concealed carry permit she mistakenly thought would accord her to same right in New Jersey, is now headed for trial. When she was pulled over in a traffic stop, Allen dutifully informed the police officer she had her pistol in the car, and was then arrested and locked up. Even though the agency that runs the same diversionary program that's handling Rice's case approved her, Atlantic County Prosecutor Jim McClain vetoed that outcome, and it appears he's determined to convict Allen of a felony regardless of the circumstances.
What law-abiding gun owner from a concealed carry state isn’t struck by the injustice Allen faces from a prosecutor gung-ho to make headlines in the wake of her honest mistake? And we’re not alone.
I have two close buddies who are long-time residents of Atlantic County and who happen to be retired police officers. Both of them served proudly through long careers dealing with some very bad and dangerous criminals, and both, understandably, possess a law-and-order mindset. Yet both men told me that what is happening to Shaneen Allen is an all-new low in a state where the gun laws make a mockery of justice. “When something like [the Allen case] comes out, how are people supposed to respect police and the courts?” said one retired officer. “No wonder we’re seeing the system breaking down.” For a closer look at this sad state of affairs, watch this in-depth video from NRA News.