it speaks to the ability to empathize. many people are "tough on crime" until they see someone get poo on for something they could see themselves doing, such as accidentally violating a concealed carry law or nearly killing their child by leaving it in a hot car for hours. the context of a crime only matters when it's conceivable that they could see themselves being "victimized" by the state (i.e. being punished for violating a law as written); otherwise it's "don't do the crime if you can't do the time"
and there is something to the post re: young black men; specifically, they are "otherized" in a way that makes it difficult for people to empathize, even when their actions seem to align neatly with ideology. for example, look at how the NRA and ronald "literally the devil" reagan reacted when the black panthers were open carrying in california.
While I'm sure there are people out there that are exactly as you describe, that's certainly not the way I or a lot of other people see things... those of us that are able to use discernment and see that every situation is different and should be treated as such.
I feel the same exact way about drug laws, as someone has already mentioned. I don't do drugs, illegal ones or otherwise, but I don't think it should be a jail time offense if someone smokes one joint or even possesses enough to be considered a dealer, regardless of what the actual law says, especially if it's their first offense.
In this particular situation, as I already stated, it is absolutely on the lady to be aware of the law in NJ... she has a responsibility as a gun owner to know where she can and cannot carry it, I don't dispute that. However, if she is an otherwise law abiding citizen, this is her first offense (as far as I know it is) and there weren't any other incriminating circumstances (she was waving the gun around, pointed it at the officer, something like that) there's no reason to go after her for the maximum sentence under the law. That just doesn't make sense and is contrary to what the justice system is supposed to be about.