Second Amendment Foundation Takes on Michigan Agency Over Foster Parent Gun Rights

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Andrew Yackley, at age 10, shooting his mom’s Adams Arms rifle on 4th of July. Check out her series on Kids and Guns. (Photo: Becky Yackley)

The Second Amendment Foundation (SAF) has filed a federal lawsuit against the head of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) for a policy that functionally bans foster and adoptive parents from possessing or bearing readily-available firearms for self-defense.

The official policy requires foster and adoptive parents to keep firearms locked and stored separately from ammunition, which must also be stored in a locked container. The rule by itself prohibits foster parents from carrying loaded weapons of any kind, but according to the SAF suit, Michigan officials have been using the policy to further impinge upon the gun rights of foster and adoptive parents.

One of the plaintiffs, a disabled veteran named William Johnson, was told by his MDHHS caseworkers that he would have to give the agency the serial numbers of all of his firearms if he wanted to maintain custody of his grandson. When he questioned this, the caseworkers allegedly told him, “If you want to care for your grandson you will have to give up some of your constitutional rights.”

The caseworkers then told Johnson and his wife that “there would not be a power struggle, that they would just take his grandson and place him in a foster home.” The MDHHS later said they had “big concerns” over Johnson exercising his Second Amendment rights and carrying a firearm.

“There is nothing in Johnson’s history that would warrant such concerns,” the suit notes.

Two weeks later, the lawsuit alleges, a Gogebic County Court judge told the Johnsons that if they wanted their grandson placed in their care, “We know we are violating numerous constitutional rights here, but if you do not comply, we will remove the boy from your home.”

“The statements from the caseworker and judge are simply outrageous,” said SAF founder and Executive Vice President Alan M. Gottlieb. “This amounts to coercion, with a child as their bartering chip. I cannot recall ever hearing anything so offensive and egregious, and we’ve handled cases like this in the past. Blatantly telling someone they must give up their civil rights in order to care for their own grandchild is simply beyond the pale.”

SEE ALSO: Kids And Guns: Series Introduction

The second set of plaintiffs, Brian and Naomi Mason, claim in the suit that they would become foster or adoptive parents “but have refrained from doing so, because they know that if they do they would be prohibited from possessing and bearing loaded and functional firearms for self-defense… at the risk of their foster children being taken away from them by the State.”

“This is a case we simply must pursue,” Gottlieb said. “State agencies and the people who work in those agencies simply cannot be allowed to disregard someone’s civil rights.”

The Second Amendment Foundation filed a similar lawsuit against the Oklahoma Department of Human Services (DHS) last year. The plaintiffs claimed that as part of their foster care recertification they were required by DHS employees to sign an agreement stating that they would keep their weapons locked up at all times.

The DHS claims that this form was not an official document and that its use was discontinued before the lawsuit was filed. As of May 2017, the DHS was working with gun owners who are foster parents to re-work the department’s firearm policies.

{ 8 comments… add one }
  • DaveGinOly July 21, 2017, 9:33 am

    “This is a case we simply must pursue,” Gottlieb said. “State agencies and the people who work in those agencies simply cannot be allowed to disregard someone’s civil rights.”

    If you need the government’s facilitation, assistance, or existence to exercise a right (voting, trial by jury, right to petition government, etc.), it’s a civil right. If you don’t need the government’s facilitation, assistance, or existence to exercise a right (rights to one’s life; to property; to freedom of religion, thought, or expression; to be secure in your papers, person, and effects; to arms, etc.) then it’s a natural right.
    Test – if you were dropped on a desert island, if you can do it there, it’s a natural right. On that island, you can make and use weapons, believe in whatever god you want, write whatever you want in diary or notebook, have absolute privacy, etc. These are all natural rights – no government needed. If you voted for yourself to hold an office, you’d be erecting a government by creating the office, so that would be a civil right that you established in the creation of the government. It could be argued that you have a natural right to establish a government, but, once established, civil rights are needed to describe the rights people have with respect to the government and its functions.
    Civil rights are themselves a set of unnatural rules regulating civil processes and prohibiting some government acts while requiring others. On the other hand, natural rights are not granted by the society in which we live, nor by the governments that make our “laws”; they are beyond lawful consideration of the mob, whether it is disorganized or works through a legislative body.

  • joefoam July 21, 2017, 9:27 am

    Sure, go ahead and make it harder for deserving kids get a loving home. Better to have them suffer than have them exposed to guns.

  • Ram6 July 21, 2017, 8:39 am

    Another example of the “deep state” rearing its ugly head as they think they have free reign to run over anyone they wish since it seems to be business as usual for the federal government. These agencies are populated with a bunch of liberal elitist snobs who believe they always know best how children should be raised. They always approve when the children are housed in extreme liberal households no matter the conditions, but God forbid a child ends up in a conservative home. Then these “brown shirts” leap into action to coerce and threaten the parents/adults into adhering to their liberal ideology with the kids as bargaining chips. They are further aided by the the liberal judges in family courts who always side with the case workers no matter how upside down their position.

    I don’t recall reading in any text of the U.S. Constitution that in order to adopt or foster children the applicant must “give up some of their civil rights”. What these states are doing is blatantly unconstitutional and will not stand once this gets to the Supreme Court which is where it is headed. The simple fact is if these people did their jobs of looking after the welfare of the children and removing them from substandard homes when warranted by substandard living conditions, drug using parents, abusive adults and the like, instead of using their office to bully law abiding parents into adhering to their ideology we would have far less dead or injured children under the jurisdiction of the child welfare system.

  • BRUCE POTTEL July 21, 2017, 8:33 am

    Obummer luvin’ hold overs… Fire their brainless, left wing ass’s.

  • Michael Hanson July 21, 2017, 8:15 am

    So why isn’t the high and mighty ACLU standing up for the foster parents and grand parents? Is this not a violation of civil and constitutional rights, or does the ACLU only take cases that support the agenda of the left. Pick and choose civil liberties?

    • Alan July 21, 2017, 11:22 am

      In fact, that IS the history of the ACLU. ‘Only those rights we agree with will be defended’ should be their socialist motto.

    • Mark Van Noy July 21, 2017, 8:27 pm

      Years ago I tried to help out a badly abused child. I still have the recording of the head of the county’s Child Protective Services stating that they would never place a child with a single adult male. When I contacted the ACLU they declined to help. I literally have a recording proving that I was being discriminated against based on gender and marital status, the ACLU was aware of those facts, and the ACLU was utterly uninterested in doing anything.

    • Edward D Ireland July 22, 2017, 10:47 am

      I have a more accurate and descriptive name for the ACLU I call it the Anti Christian League United. You could also call them the Anti Conservative League United. Yes they will help you but only if it furthers their socialist agenda.

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