Oklahoma Foster Parents Forced to Choose Between Guns and Children

The Oklahoma Department of Human Services has a strict policy when it comes to the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding foster parents that leave many with a precarious choice: go unarmed and keep the children or arm oneself and risk losing the children.

To explicate, under the state DHS’s “Weapons Safety Agreement,” foster and adoptive parents must agree to keep their weapons locked up when their not in use, to not carry their firearms if a child is present (there is an exemption if one is required to carry a gun for work, e.g. a police officer) and to keep any firearm in an automobile unloaded, disabled and stored in a locked container.

In other words, one must disarm when one’s foster children are present. One cannot carry a firearm for traditionally lawful purposes, such as self-defense outside the home, with foster children.

According to the bureaucrats that run the DHS, the two-year-old policy isn’t an undue restriction on one’s right to keep and bear arms, but a sensible way to protect the children.

“Our agency policy does not prohibit gun ownership by foster parents,” Sheree Powell, the DHS communications director, told NewsOK. “It does, however, require reasonable safety measures to protect the children in DHS care, many of whom come from traumatic and tragic circumstances.”

Thankfully, the Second Amendment Foundation has filed a lawsuit challenging the policy on the grounds that it’s unconstitutional.

“This mandate for foster parents is not just restrictive, it’s ridiculous,” said SAF founder and Executive Vice President Alan M. Gottlieb in a press release. “Why should a foster parent be stripped of his or her right to self-defense, or their ability to defend their foster child, simply to appease some bureaucrat’s anti-gun philosophy?

“We’re in a new era, when people not only must be concerned with violent crime, but also acts of urban terrorism,” added Gottlieb. “How would it look for Oklahoma if foster children came to some harm because OKDHS regulations disarmed their foster parents? We’re asking for an injunction against this requirement because it puts foster families at serious risk while denying parents of their constitutional rights.”

The lawsuit was filed earlier this month and the DHS has reviewed it, noting that it would consider revising it if need be.

“Agency leadership has, in fact, been diligently working in recent weeks to review and, if necessary, revise its foster care weapons policy in order to address the interests of foster parents who are appropriately permitted to possess firearms,” said Powell. “Any revisions to agency policy, however, will always make the safety of children its first and foremost priority.”

Meanwhile, the SAF believes it has a pretty strong case against the DHS.

“It is completely unconstitutional, and unfair,” began attorney David G. Sigale, who is representing the plaintiffs, a married couple from Moore who’ve, over the years, housed 34 foster children, “that those persons who are providing a better life and environment for children, through the State’s DHS foster care and adoption process, would have to give up the fundamental rights of self-defense and defense of family in order to do so.

“If one is in compliance with federal law and the Oklahoma Self-Defense Act, the DHS is not allowed to discriminate against those who foster and adopt through the State programs,” Sigale continued. “The DHS’s policy that severely restricts the firearm possession of these good people must be struck down.”

This case underscores how the government views firearms in the hands of the citizenry. Guns are a threat. Guns are exceedingly dangerous. And guns must be kept away from the children at all cost. This stance flies in the face of common sense, and the core values that this country was founded on. Parents — not the state — are responsible for the safety of their children. Part of that responsibility is having the tools necessary to protect them. Another part, which is as important, is teaching age-appropriate children how to safely handle and use firearms.

What DHS doesn’t understand is that public safety is maximized when the public is well-armed and knowledgeable about the safe and responsible use of firearms. Public safety is jeopardized when parents are disarmed and thereby precluded from teaching their children about the tools that could one day save their lives.

{ 17 comments… add one }
  • Mike Haney August 1, 2016, 4:04 pm

    My first reaction to this was the same as most of those commenting: unconstitutional infringement of foster parents’ 2nd Amendment rights.

    But on second thought: when you agree to foster a child who has come from some unsuitable home situation, you are agreeing to bring into your home a child who has problems and character you can not fully understand until you have cared for them a while, if ever. You do not know about the child’s possible anger issues, hatred for authority, fear of adults, suicidal tendencies, or a host of other potential psychological/emotional issues. That child plus the presence of an unsecured firearm is a recipe for tragedy.

    The DHS is concerned for the safety of the children, the foster family, and the general public. While I’m sure an agency like that employs a greater percentage of liberal gun-haters than the overall population of a conservative state like Oklahoma, I honestly doubt the motivation for their rules is as sinister as some of us want to believe.

  • John July 29, 2016, 7:54 am

    I just love Oklahoma. But there must be a steady stream of libtards getting a toe hold there. These foster parents are providing a service that saves the state tax payers millions. And armed foster parents provide these children something the state dhs can not, protection. I would either lie to them or not foster children. Seems OK’s dhs wants to raise another generation of libtards instead of Americans.

  • Andrew N. January 25, 2016, 1:53 am

    What happens when a Foster Child is killed by some random violence that could have been prevented by the disarmed, but CCW licensed Foster Parent? Who gets the blame for failure to protect that child?

  • Richard Miles January 20, 2016, 11:28 am

    I have always had the idea that Government will do as they please. So with that said just go back to supply and demand. If people didn’t take the kids in any more the DHS would have to change its policies. This of course is based on the foster parents doing this for the love of the children not for the need of the money they get for fostering. I am just wondering if there was a case where the foster child was injured buy a gun from a foster family that caused this rule to be put in place. Good luck to the families either way on this case and thanks for helping out those children in need.

  • Bill Fairfax January 18, 2016, 1:03 pm

    As a responsible gun owner it’s my job to teach my children and anyone in my home proper gun safety. I could understand if the government asked that your weapons be stored in a proper gun safe or cabinet and that your home defense weapon be in a gun box.Securing your guns against theft and misuse is part of being a responsible gun owner.

  • Daddio7 January 15, 2016, 5:00 pm

    Statistics show that someone in a home with a gun is much more likely to be shot than a person in a home with no gun present. I can’t blame DHS, kids are safer in a home with no guns. You can exercise your rights with your own children but not with someone else’s.

  • D.Tros January 15, 2016, 2:56 pm

    The DHS needs to be banned. This is not a joke. This organization is one of the greatest threats to our freedom than almost anything else.

  • Kevin January 15, 2016, 2:35 pm

    The OK DHS has been like this for many years. It is tragic when most of their child counselor are not even legally licensed as counselors they just receive a short in house training. They will pull your children out of class and interview them without even a school representative present. They will come to your house and demand entry (having a Sheriff Deputy if necessary), roam through your house opening drawers, doors, and cabinets. They will then checkup on you with no notice. This will continue even when they find nothing wrong. Remember these people are not licensed counsellors. I had 12 false complaints made againsed me and my girl friend each about 3 months apart. It is a felony to make a false complaint. I finally asked them about charging the person making the complaints, their answer was that they are not an investigative agency! At that point a told the that if they harassed my kids or me again I wound file civil charges against them for aiding and abetting a felony. They sorta giggled at that until I told them to just try me, the look on their face changed to worry instantly. Never saw them again. The governor should personally Fire each bureaucrat involved in enforcing an illegal policy and depriving people’s legal and both OK ans US Constitutional rights

  • Larry January 15, 2016, 12:43 pm

    What a pitiful decision &, to think it is in Oklahoma! Shame on you Okies for allowing this leftist department to operate within your state government. Furthermore, I doubt that this is even constitutional. Someone needs to challenge this so called law.

    • bob April 14, 2017, 5:56 am

      Some one should challenge this? um, did you even read the story, these idiots are being challenged in court.

  • Bill C... January 15, 2016, 11:20 am

    As a foster parent we have the same situation with the laws here in Iowa.
    Don’t know about the law in Oklahoma but here in Iowa once we adopt they
    are not considered wards of the state and than the law doesn’t apply.

  • Ray Hollis January 15, 2016, 10:41 am

    The U.S. Constitution gives Citizens the right to to own and bear arms. Therefore, no State Agency has the right to change or restrict that right, or make the ownership of guns a stipulation for being eligible for being a foster parent.

    • Robert Frasconi January 15, 2016, 3:59 pm

      Ray Hollis: is JANUARY 15, 2016, 10:41 AM
      “The U.S. Constitution gives Citizens the right to to own and bear arms.”

      The U.S. Constitution does not give Citizens the right to own and bear arms. The Second Amendment recognizes the inherent right of the people to keep and bear arms. This right is an inherent, innate, and inalienable right that pre-dates government. Therefore, it cannot descend from government (i.e., be given by a government document — i.e., the U.S. Constitution).

      A government which curtails or attempts to strip free men of this inalienable right is tyrannical in nature and cannot be said to be a government that has the consent of a free people, for that unconstitutional government is antithetical to the liberties and the freedoms of all.

      Defense against such a tyrannical government is what the Second Amendment is really about.

  • Bockscar81 January 15, 2016, 5:41 am

    I would be willing to bet that this suit goes nowhere. Foster children are wards of the state (as are most children actually) so when it comes to the “rules” governing anything involving them the state can do as it pleases. Since most jurisdictions are covered under maritime law and commercial codes rather than constitutional law, it doesn’t really give John Q Public much ground to stand on.

    • Mr. Sparkles January 15, 2016, 8:27 am

      Bockscar81; I hope that you are wrong as the likelihood that a foster child will be in need of protection is far greater then the child of John Q Public as these children are often times in the middle of some battle with persons on one side that the state has already determined are NOT suitable as a guardian. Imagine if some harm did came to one of these children; would Oklahoma DHS step up to the plate and admit wrong doing? I think not. The child would simply be a sacrificial lamb on the alter of the politically correct.

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