Don’t Be Shaneen: Know the Law

Shaneen Allen and son. Her child was in the car when she was pulled over as she left an Atlantic City birthday party.
Shaneen Allen and son. Her child was in the car when she was pulled over as she left an Atlantic City birthday party.

Yesterday I wrote about Shaneen Allen. I focused on the overzealous prosecutor, mandatory minimums and pretrial hypocracy. Then a friend who knows much more about guns and the law pointed something out to me. It could have all easily been avoided.

There will always be routine traffic stops and asshole prosecutors. But if you get a gun and a license to carry, you have an obligation to learn the laws, not just of your home state but wherever you happen to be. The moral here is Know your Rights.

Soon my wife and I will drive from Atlanta to Philly. Our trip will take us through seven states, each with its own set of laws. South Carolina doesn’t respect the Georgia CCW, but North Carolina does. Virginia is cool with open carry. It appears to be legal in Delaware, but not as common. Don’t even try it in Maryland.

That’s just carrying. What about transport? Virginia lets you carry a loaded gun in your unlocked glove box. In North Carolina, this crosses the line into concealed carry, which is a no no unless you have a concealed carry permit. (Open carry is legal. So what about driving with it sitting on your passenger seat?)

You get the point? The laws don’t always make sense, but it’s still our responsibility to make sense of them. And Allen should have known better.

Yesterday I wrote that telling the officer about your license was a courtesy. That isn’t exactly true. In some states like South Carolina, it’s a law. If you are pulled over, you have to tell the officer about your weapon and show him your license, whether or not you are asked. That isn’t the case in Jersey. Allen had no obligation to volunteer the fact that she had a Bersa 380 in her purse and he had no probable cause to look for one.

The relationship between Philly and Jersey is special. When I lived in Philly, we crossed the bridge whenever we got bored. We would go to the Mall in Cherry Hill, hit up the Olive Garden down the road and then end the night at the movies. Throw in occasional trips to Atlantic City and then jaunts to New York, I must have put in 10 thousand miles on the Turnpike. And I wasn’t alone.

I still don’t think she deserved to spend 40 days in jail. I don’t think her son should have had to watch his mom get taken away and I can’t imagine what it must be like fighting a possible five year sentence. But Shaneen should have known better. That information is just a Google search away.

I’ll make it easy for you. Here’s a link to They have a clickable map which will tell you everything you need to know.

This is the NRA’s Institute of Legislative Action.

Now you really don’t have an excuse.