LAW & PUBLIC SAFETY

Asm. Dancer: Shaneen’s Law Would Give Judges Discretionary Option in Gun Cases

The expectation that all law-abiding gun owners should know about every gun ownership law throughout the United Stated is “unreasonable,” according to Assemblyman Ronald Dancer. He has introduced a bill that would give some judges discretion and Dancer told NJTV News Anchor Mary Alice Williams that this is the first time in New Jersey that judges would be given discretion in such cases.

Dancer has introduced Shaneen’s Law in response to the arrest of Shaneen Allen, a single mother from Pennsylvania who drove into New Jersey with a gun, saying she didn’t realize her license to carry from Pennsylvania was invalid in New Jersey. When she was pulled over, she told the police officer she had the weapon in the car and was subsequently arrested.

When asked why the Shaneen Allen incident was gaining so much traction, Dancer said it is because it is the constitutional Second Amendment right of all United States citizens to own and to bear arms. He said that more specifically with respect to Shaneen’s Law, it gives for the first time in New Jersey, a discretionary option to the judge that there would not have to be a mandatory prison term.

Dancer said three conditions have to be met — the person must be a visitor coming into New Jersey that has complied with his or her home state gun laws, the person can have no known association or affiliation with street gangs and the person must be a law abiding citizen with no past criminal record or intent. If those conditions are met, the judge would be able to grant that individual access to a pre-trial intervention program. Dancer said hopefully with that option, New Jersey will not have innocent, law-abiding citizens like Allen put in prison.

Three other senators recently introduced a similar bill to Dancer’s that allows pre-trial intervention or supervisory treatment. Dancer said that the likelihood of those laws passing is great because it is not about being a Republican or a Democrat. He said that it is about balancing the scales of justice. He said that Sen. Jim Whelan called him saying he would like to do the companion bill in the Senate. Dancer said there is broad bipartisan support for the measure in the Assembly.