Carrying a Gun to a Different State…Know the Laws or Go to Jail

If you haven’t heard, carrying a gun to another state isn’t quite the same as brining some famous foods from your home state…it can end you up in jail. You have probably heard about the case of Shaneen Allen from Philadelphia that landed her in jail for carrying her handgun into New Jersey. She was set to be sentenced to up to five years in jail…until Governor Chris Christie pardoned her this past week.

In a nutshell, Shaneen Allen was driving from Philadelphia to New Jersey (where there are very strict gun laws) and was pulled over for an illegal lane change. When pulled over, she voluntarily told the officer that she had a handgun (legally registered in Philadelphia) in her purse she carried for protection because she had been robbed and beaten twice already. It didn’t matter…it violated New Jersey law that said the gun had to be locked up in a trunk and not in her possession. She was arrested.

As the case goes, she appealed for getting some community service work in lieu of jail time and this was denied by the judge. So she was set to be sentenced up to five years in prison. Why such a harsh penalty for a seemingly innocent violation? During this time, they were supposedly interested in making an example of her to thwart other gun owners from carrying firearms in the state of New Jersey. She finally appealed to the Governor and was granted a full pardon for the offense. This happened 2 years ago…

While there are many lessons we can learn from a seemingly innocent act by a law abiding citizen, there is one in particular I want to discuss in more detail for any gun owner. It is about the issue of “possession and transportation” of a firearm interstate. This is an area I hear about all the time from gun owners and surprisingly, most are unaware they are potentially committing felony acts. The issue is simple…taking your firearms, especially hand guns, NFA items, and assault weapons across the border into another state.

While there are Federal laws that govern many aspects of gun ownership, most of the laws people get in trouble with are State laws, not Federal laws. States have their own jurisdictions and laws that they can enforce outside of the Federal laws. Because of this, a gun owner has to assume the responsibility of knowing what these laws are or risk violation and possibly jail. And as we have all heard, ignorance is not excuse for breaking the law. So just saying you didn’t know isn’t going to cut it when it comes to gun laws in a particular state…as Shaneen Allen found out in New Jersey.

If you are uncertain, look up the laws regarding transporting firearms into the new state. And if you are uncertain of what they mean, seek out a gun law attorney in that state. Being connected to a national network of gun law attorneys through GunLaw Community allows me to help people get connected to an attorney that knows the laws in other states. I practice law in our state but not in other states so I rely on my network of other Gun Law Attorneys to help keep people knowledgeable and out of jail.

Finally, remember that if you are going “through” a state on your way somewhere, you need to know the laws in these states you are “driving through” as well. If you get pulled over, like Shaneen, they consider you in their state and subject to local laws…regardless of where you are headed. So plan out an enjoyable trip and keep it that way by checking with a qualified gun law attorney before you set out so you know what you can and can’t do in every state along your journey…it may just keep you out of jail!

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