It’s the kind of story that resembles a television drama. A 54-year-old disabled Marine Corps veteran gets notice that his grandchild is in state custody: “Come get him,” the state employees say.
But when William Johnson and his wife Jill arrived to pick up the child, a case agent for the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services executed a warrantless search on the veteran. When the agent could find no weapons, the agency used his concealed-carry license to justify a bizarre directive: Register your guns with us, or you cannot foster your grandchild.
Of course, Johnson refused. That’s when the fight started.
Under Michigan DHHS Foster Care Rules pertaining to “hazardous materials,” Rule 415 states: “(1) A foster parent shall follow the agency’s hazardous materials policy. (3) Firearms are subject to the following conditions: (a) Stored in a locked metal or solid wood gun safe or (b) Trigger-locked and stored without ammunition in a locked area. (c) Ammunition shall be stored in a separate locked location. (d) A handgun shall be registered. Documentation of the registration of the handgun shall be available for review.”
“If you want to care for your grandson, you will have to give up some of your constitutional rights.” — Case worker for the Michigan Department of Health and Human ServicesJohnson is a law-abiding citizen under no investigation and with no prior arrests—in other words, an all-around model citizen. The MDHHS wasn’t just asking for a list of firearms that Johnson owned; no, the agency wanted the make, model and serial numbers of each gun. For what good purpose would Johnson or any other American citizen willingly provide that information to a government agency? And how many other good people willingly provided this information because their minor relative’s safety hung in the balance? There isn’t any available data on that, but Johnson has taken steps to ensure it never happens again.
A lawsuit has been filed on behalf of Johnson. In it, the plaintiff alleges that a caseworker for MDHHS said: “If you want to care for your grandson, you will have to give up some of your constitutional rights.”
Obviously, that is pure, unadulterated bollocks. Entering into a foster care arrangement for a minor relative does not require the relinquishment of any constitutional rights. That is, unless you’re in the state of Michigan which has a law stating as much.
The plaintiff’s lawsuit explains the problems with Michigan’s foster care rules quite succinctly by going directly to the source materials—the Second and Fourteenth amendments.
The Second Amendment is very clear, “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”
Equally well defined is the first part of the Fourteenth Amendment, “No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”
The Johnsons should be applauded for suing to remedy this situation. They are doing every gun owner in Michigan a service. If they fail at the state level, an appeal is definitely in order to right this egregious wrong.
“We know we are violating numerous constitutional rights here, but if you do not comply, we will remove the boy from your home.” — Michigan judge addressing the Johnsons in open courtJust take a look at what the judge told the Johnsons in open court when they sought relief from the anti-Second Amendment rubbish MDHSS was pushing on them: “We know we are violating numerous constitutional rights here, but if you do not comply, we will remove the boy from your home.” Really? Constitutional lawbreakers certainly have a ton of moxie, don’t they?
The Johnsons aren’t the only ones party to the suit—they are joined by Brian Mason, a pastor and NRA Range instructor, and his wife Naomi Mason, an author and substitute teacher. The Masons also want to become foster parents, but are precluded from doing so because of their refusal to submit the required de facto gun registration information.
In essence, some of the best people around—those with the lowest rate of criminality, and who are the most altruistic because they are openly willing to give their lives in the defense of others—are barred from caring for children in need of a safe home because they own guns.
This is the type of nonsense the Second Amendment was created to prevent. Godspeed to the plaintiffs here.
Stacy Washington is a decorated Air Force veteran, Emmy-nominated TV personality and host of nationally syndicated radio program “Stacy on the Right,” based in St. Louis. She loves God, guns, and is a member of the NRA, obviously.