On Wednesday, Fox News reported that William Johnson of Ontonagon, Michigan, was told that he would have to give up his Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms if he wanted to foster his grandson. Not only was he told this by caseworkers with the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS), he was instructed by a county judge that, “if you want to care for your grandson you will have to give up some of your constitutional rights.”
As a result, Fox said, a lawsuit was filed in federal court on Monday.
According to Fox:
Caseworkers from MDHHS and a county judge told William Johnson of Ontonagon, Mich., that he had to choose between his Second Amendment rights and fostering his grandson, according to a complaint filed with the United States District Court for the Western District of Michigan. The 54-year-old Johnson is a retired, disabled Marine with a Michigan Concealed Pistol License. He and his wife were asked by the state of Michigan to foster their grandson. According to Johnson’s suit, however, the issues began as soon as he arrived at MDHHS to pick up the child.
Johnson said he was searched for a firearm and, although he was not carrying a gun, officials demanded to see his concealed carry license. He was then told he would need to give MDHHS the serial numbers of all of his firearms, including rifles and shotguns, and register them with the agency. After questioning why he would have to register his firearms in order to foster his grandson, Johnson said he was told by one caseworker, “if you want to care for your grandson you will have to give up some of your constitutional rights.” When he objected, he was told there would not be a “power struggle” and MDHHS “would just take his grandson and place him in a foster home” if he didn’t comply with their requests.
Two weeks later, during a hearing on placement of the child, Johnson said a Gogebic County Court judge similarly told him, “if you want to care for your grandson you will have to give up some of your constitutional rights.”
“We know we are violating numerous constitutional rights here, but if you do not comply, we will remove the boy from your home,” the judge reportedly said, according to a post at Bearing Arms.
Alan Gottlieb, Founder and Executive Vice President of the Second Amendment Foundation, slammed the statements from agency workers and the judge.
“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,” he said in a statement. “This is a case we simply must pursue,” Gottlieb added. “State agencies and the people who work in those agencies simply cannot be allowed to disregard someone’s civil rights.”
According to Michigan law, anyone who wants to be a foster parent must register his or her handguns with the state and keep the guns unloaded and locked in a safe separate from the ammunition, Fox added.
Fox News’ Todd Starnes addressed the issue: