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story.lead_photo.caption Shaneen Allen, an advocate for the Second Amendment, speaks last year during a pro-gun rally at Capitol Square in Richmond, Va.

TRENTON, N.J. -- The handgun that Shaneen Allen was carrying when she was pulled over on a New Jersey highway could have sent her to prison for years.

Now the legal saga that kept the Pennsylvania mother of two in jail for 48 days has helped inspire a measure that could change handgun laws across the country.

"Hopefully I'll be at the White House next to [President Donald] Trump signing this bill," said Allen, who has become a face of the Republican effort to break down barriers to carrying concealed firearms between states. "Republicans put their money where their mouth was."

The GOP-led House passed legislation this month that would allow gun owners with a state-issued concealed-carry permit to carry a handgun in any state that allows concealed weapons. The bill faces longer odds in the Senate, which didn't vote on it before leaving for the year.

Gun-control advocates say the measure would endanger public safety by effectively overriding states with tighter laws. Gun-rights activists say it's needed to allow gun owners to travel freely without worrying about conflicting state laws.

The measure is a top priority of the National Rifle Association, and a letter in support of the measure has been signed by Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge and 23 other Republican attorneys general.

Seventeen Democratic attorneys general have called on Congress to give up the effort, the first significant action on guns in Congress since mass shootings in Nevada and Texas killed more than 80 people combined.

Even N.J. Gov. Chris Christie, a Republican who has pardoned a number of out-of-state residents caught up in New Jersey's strict gun laws, is against the change. Christie said it's a states' rights issue.

Allen's story, along with others who have been caught up in similar circumstances, has helped the measure get this far.

North Carolina Republican Rep. Richard Hudson, who authored the legislation, cited Allen's story in a speech on the House floor as an example about why the measure is needed.

Christie has pardoned Florida and North Carolina residents who faced charges even though they legally possessed firearms in their home states. On Friday, he pardoned three people charged with handgun possession, including a man with permits to carry a gun in Pennsylvania and New York who was charged after he told police he had a gun after a car accident.

In another case, prosecutors dropped charges against a Delaware man who had a Tennessee concealed-carry permit but faced felony gun charges in his new state.

Allen, a phlebotomist, was driving on the Atlantic City Expressway when she was pulled over for making an unsafe lane change in October 2013.

She told the police officer that she was carrying a firearm and that she had a Pennsylvania-issued concealed-carry permit.

"I thought my license was just like a driver's license," she said.

She spent 48 days in jail before she was admitted to a pretrial intervention program. In 2015, while gearing up for his failed presidential run, Christie interviewed her and eventually pardoned her.

Allen's ordeal captured national attention from gun-rights advocates and prompted her to switch from a Democrat to a Republican and vote for Trump over Hillary Clinton. She says it also turned her into an advocate for the Second Amendment, including lobbying lawmakers to pass the measure and speaking at rallies.

Allen's response to opponents echoes those of the GOP lawmakers who back the bill: Laws aimed at keeping weapons from people intent on committing a crime are essentially futile.

"All I can say is I pray for them. Crime is everywhere," she said. "Every person that is carrying could possibly save your life. A crime could happen anywhere."

A Section on 12/26/2017

Print Headline: Gun bill collides with states' rights

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  • mozarky2
    December 26, 2017 at 5:55 a.m.

    So I suppose this means states may also put limits on the other nine amendments to the Bill of Rights...?

  • RBear
    December 26, 2017 at 6:15 a.m.

    This issue creates a challenge between 2nd Amendment advocates and 10th Amendment advocates, both typically in the right wing of our political climate. But one can only look to elections to see how this can be settled. Our Constitution guarantees the right to vote to citizens of the nation, but has deferred to states in deciding how those votes can be cast. The VRA is designed only to insure those elections are carried out fairly and without favor to one group or another.
    Of course, moz flunks the con law test with his quick quip of the day, forgetting that there are seventeen other amendments in our Constitution.

  • GCW
    December 26, 2017 at 6:30 a.m.

    Voters in that state must be thrilled to foot the bill for those jail stays.

  • 23cal
    December 26, 2017 at 7:12 a.m.

    About "I thought my license was just like a driver's license," she said."
    One of the very, very few things they taught in the Arkansas CC class which I attended was that some states allow concealed carry, some don't, and when traveling you need to find out in advance which is which. If this woman wasn't knowledgeable and responsible enough to do something that basic and simple, then she doesn't fit the label of "Responsible Gun Owner(tm)" which the right wing gun nuts are always blathering about and which in reality means "Anyone who can get their hands on a gun."
    The CC class I attended was a joke, and I can understand why some states wouldn't want incompetent and untrained Arkies cruising around there packing heat. 90% of class time was spent on how to fill out the application. The shooting "test" consisted of allowing an applicant to shoot at replaced targets until eventually they hit the paper enough times. There was no limit on how many attempts they got to take. Gun safety and psychological preparation weren't even a blip on the radar.
    It seems reasonable that if there is going to be a nationwide CC permit, it would only make sense to have nationwide requirements and testing to achieve that permit. As a frequent traveler, I would like to see a universal permit. However, as someone who has been through the course here, I understand and support states which are against this particular bill.
    For the inevitable Second Amendment droolers such as Moz, rights aren't absolute. This is long established constitutional jurisprudence, which explains why they can't grasp that idea. Freedom of speech doesn't allow slander, freedom of religion doesn't allow human sacrifice, and the second amendment doesn't allow any person to have any weapon at any time in any location. If firearms can be banned in courtrooms and jails, then concealed permits can be banned from state to state.

  • LR1955
    December 26, 2017 at 11:22 a.m.

    If everyone would just obey the laws, keep their lips zipped about their CHCL, and keep their weapon concealed, I don’t think there world be any problems.

  • GeneralMac
    December 26, 2017 at 1:01 p.m.

    23Cal...........New Jersey does have a permit to carry law,although the info I read said one has to be " very rich or have connections" to get a permit.

    Thus, she WAS in a state that allows you to carry with a permit.

    This rebukes your 2nd sentence .

  • GeneralMac
    December 26, 2017 at 1:03 p.m.

    LR1955.............are you stating when a person who has a concealed weapon permit they should NOT tell police they have a fire arm when pulled over?

  • Packman
    December 26, 2017 at 1:14 p.m.

    The 2nd Amendment applies nationally. As a practical matter cc laws need some consistency between the states due to interstate transportation.
    Hey 23cal - My cc class as a little more rigorous than what you describe but still not incredibly difficult. I agree with tougher requirements for interstate cc permit. But you must also acknowledge your arrogance and bias using phrases like "including incompetent and untrained Arkies". As poor as the training you received might have been it's better than no training. You also ignore that lawbreakers transport firearms at will.

  • 23cal
    December 26, 2017 at 2:39 p.m.

    GeneralMac....about "23Cal...........New Jersey does have a permit to carry law,although the info I read said one has to be " very rich or have connections" to get a permit.

    Thus, she WAS in a state that allows you to carry with a permit.

    This rebukes your 2nd sentence ."
    Apparently, you think a Pennsylvania permit in New Jersey is the same as a New Jersey permit in New Jersey. You would be wrong about that.
    "All firearms transported into the State of New Jersey:

    Shall be carried unloaded and contained in a closed and fastened case, gunbox, securely tied package, or locked in the trunk of the automobile in which it is being transported, and in the course of travel, shall include only such deviations as are reasonably necessary under the circumstances.
    The firearm should not be directly accessible from the passenger compartment of the vehicle. If the vehicle does not have a compartment separate from the passenger compartment, the firearm and ammunition must be in a locked container other than the vehicle's glove compartment or console."
    New Jersey State Police website w ww.njsp.or g/firearms/transport-firearm.sht ml
    Since I travel quite a bit, I keep up to date on which states have reciprocity with Arkansas---which is fairly similar to Pennsylvania, where the lady in this article is from. There are about 17 states which do not have reciprocity with hardly any other states, and New Jersey is one of them.

  • Whippersnapper
    December 26, 2017 at 11 p.m.

    23cal says rights aren't absolute. Just out of curiosity, do you support the federal government forcing every state to acknowledge every other state's marriage licenses, or should Arkansas be allowed to limit their issuance? Oh yeah, the Supreme Court declared that states must acknowledge marriage licenses from other states, so why should carry permits be any different? Well maybe if one of them was a federal right explicitly protected by the constitution... Oh yeah, one of them is and it isn't marriage.