N.J. lawmaker wants leniency for some gun law violations

 (Mel Evans/AP Photo, file)

(Mel Evans/AP Photo, file)

Proposed legislation would give New Jersey judges some discretion in sentencing out-of-state residents in firearms cases.

The bill is a response to the arrest of a single mother from Philadelphia who did not know her conceal-carry permit in Pennsylvania was invalid in New Jersey, said Sen. Jim Whelan.

“If it’s a New Jersey resident and they should know better, that’s one thing,” said Whelen, D-Atlantic. “But if it’s a law-abiding citizen from another state who’s caught as this woman was, innocently with a gun not knowing what New Jersey laws are, I think the judge should have the discretion to impose as lighter penalty.”

New Jersey law now requires a minimum three-and-a-half-year sentence for firearms crimes.

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Whelan’s bill would allow for a warning, fines, or pretrial intervention for out-of-state residents who legally possess firearms in their own state and don’t have a criminal record or gang affiliation.

During a trip to Atlantic City in October, Shaneen Allen was arrested following a routine traffic stop. She was charged with unlawful possession of a weapon and possession of hollow-point bullets.

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