Pennsylvania Gun Owners: Be Careful When Traveling

APRIL 14, 2015

When I read the news recently that New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie pardoned a Pennsylvania mom who had been pulled over for speeding in the Garden State and ended up being jailed for having a gun in her car all I could think about the was famous Ron Burgundy quote: “Wow. That escalated quickly.”

Oh, did I mention that she was a concealed weapon permit holder in Pennsylvania? That, upon being stopped, she told the arresting officer that indeed, she was a permit holder and that the gun was in her vehicle?

Didn’t matter: The woman, Shalene Allen, was charged and faced as many as three years for the gun violation.

This is why: There is no reciprocity agreement between Pennsylvania and New Jersey, which means that just because you’re good to go with your permit in the Commonwealth, means very little when you drive over the state border. If you get caught speeding, or blowing through a red light and you have a gun in your car or on your person, you’re gonna get charged, regardless of your permit status in Pennsylvania.

All I’m trying to say is, as a Pittsburgh criminal defense attorney, I see situations like Ms. Allen’s all the time – where the client truly believes they are being law abiding.

Take some free advice from a criminal defense lawyer who has represented plenty of lawful gun owners: You’ve got to be careful – because confusion over the law is not an excuse when you get charged and have to go into a courtroom to defend yourself (or have someone like me do it for you).

Here’s an example: In Pennsylvania, gun owners need what is known as a concealed carry permit to be able to carry a firearm in a bag, in a car, or hidden on their person. But, in Pennsylvania, it is also legal to open carry.

I’ve had clients who have gotten the two a bit confused – thinking that they can keep their guns on their passenger seat or o the floor while their cruising on 79.

In a word: Wrong! If you were stopped for some minor reason (break light might be out, maybe you passed illegally), the police discover the gun, and you might be arrested and wondering who you need to call for bail.

Gun charges are serious – and the issue of Second Amendment rights is so politically volatile – that I just wanted to share to ensure all of my law-abiding gun enthusiasts won’t need to rely on me or any other Pittsburgh criminal defense attorney to help get them out of a jam.