During the past few years, foster parents around the country have come forward to say they were told to give up their guns—or give up carrying them on their person for self-defense—as a way of complying with the foster care requirements for their particular state.
A Michigan couple—William and Jill Johnson—are currently in the news for this very issue. During efforts to become the foster parents for their grandson, Johnson claimed the case worker talked to him about gun ownership, saying, “If you want to care for your grandson you will have to give up some of your constitutional rights.”
The Johnson’s filed suit as a result, and even The New York Times has picked up the Johnson’s story and reported it in a substantive manner.
Johnson claimed the case worker talked to him about gun ownership, saying, “If you want to care for your grandson you will have to give up some of your constitutional rights.”According to the Times, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services’ handbook for foster parents says firearms “shall be stored in a locked metal or solid wood gun case, or trigger-locked and stored without ammunition in a locked area.” Moreover, the Times reports that MDHHS requires “all ammunition being locked up and handguns be registered.”
Michigan is getting all the attention right now, but it is not the only state with anti-Second Amendment mandates tied to foster parenting.
For example, on Sept. 1, 2015, Breitbart News reported that Nevada residents Kristi and Rod Beber faced the possibility of losing their foster children because Rod grabbed a gun and ran out in the front yard to stop an alleged disturbance. The matter was handled without a shot being fired or an injury incurred, yet News 3 reported that the Nevada Department of Family Services (DFS) “pulled the Bebers’ foster license” and told them Rod’s reaction to the disturbance did not sound like “an adult exercising sound judgment.”
Months earlier, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported that another couple—Brian and Valerie Wilson—were denied their request to foster parent because they both carried concealed handguns for self-defense.
The Nevada Legislature corrected these rules/requirements, but similar regulations are still in place in states throughout the country.
Consider Massachusetts, where guidelines for foster and adoptive homes say:
Any firearms located in the home shall be registered and licensed in accordance with state law. All firearms shall be trigger-locked or fully inoperable and stored without ammunition in a locked area. Ammunition shall be stored in a separate locked location.
Even states like Oklahoma—conservative and pro-gun by any measure—toyed with requiring prospective foster parents to sign a “weapons safety agreement,” then abandoned the effort before it could become official policy.
Illinois is currently facing a lawsuit over its anti-Second Amendment foster parent requirements. Fox News reports:
Prospective Illinois foster parents must either certify that there are no firearms in their home or complete a form called the Foster Family Firearms Arrangement. That document requires a list of all guns and ammunition in the home and locations where they are stored. Would-be foster parents also must certify the guns have trigger locks and are stored unloaded, separate from ammunition and in locked containers accessible only with a key kept off the premises or on the owner’s person.
“It’s a nonsensical law that flies in the face of the Constitution.” — NRATV's Grant StinchfieldOn Jan. 17 of this year, NRATV’s Grant Stinchfield addressed the anti-Second Amendment regulation on firearms in the homes of foster parents in Illinois. He observed, “It’s a nonsensical law that flies in the face of the Constitution.” He asked, “Why should you give up a constitutional right when you’re engaging in the charitable act of taking care of a child in need?”
To Stinchfield’s point, why are foster parents targeted with gun control that exceeds the controls faced by other citizens? Are the states trying to discourage foster parenting, or are they just seizing an an opportunity to secure more gun control in any way they can?AWR Hawkins is the Second Amendment columnist for Breitbart News and host of Bullets with AWR Hawkins, a Breitbart News podcast. He is also the political analyst for Armed American Radio. Follow him on Twitter: @AWRHawkins. Reach him directly at [email protected].