Shaneen Allen could have spent many years in prison after she was caught with a handgun on a New Jersey highway, but Republican Governor Chris Christie pardoned her.
Allen’s legal saga inspired a measure that could change handgun laws across the country and she consequently became a face of the GOP effort to break down barriers to carrying concealed firearms between states.
“Hopefully I’ll be at the White House next to (President) Trump signing this bill,” said Allen, mother of two who spent 48 days in jail, Associated Press reports.
In October 2013, Allen was pulled over for making an unsafe lane change. She told the police officer that she was carrying a firearm and that she had a Pennsylvania-issued concealed carry permit. She spent 48 days in jail before she was admitted to a pretrial intervention program. In 2015 Christie interviewed her and eventually pardoned her.
This month the House passed a legislation that would allow gun owners with a state-issued concealed-carry permit to carry a handgun in any state that allows concealed weapons. The Senate did not 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, while gun rights activists say it is needed to allow gun owners to travel freely without worrying about conflicting state laws. Attorneys general from 23 Republican states wrote a letter in support of the measure and 17 Democratic attorneys general called on Congress to give up effort.
Even Christie is against the change. He said it’s a state’s rights issue that the federal government should stay out of. He is a Republican who has pardoned a number of out-of-state residents caught up in New Jersey’s strict gun laws.
The legislation does not allow those barred by federal law from carrying concealed firearms across state lines and requires gun carriers to have a photo identification and a valid carry permit. The measure calls for strengthening the FBI database of prohibited gun buyers.