Johnson filed his complaint last Monday in the United States District Court for the Western District of Michigan.
The 54-year old retired, disabled Marine veteran said he and his wife were asked by the state of Michigan to become foster parents for his grandson.
When he arrived at MDHHS to pick up the child, he was immediately searched for a firearm and officials demanded to see his concealed carry license.
He then was told he would have to provide the serial numbers of all his firearms, handguns and shotguns, and register them with the agency. When he questioned why, he has told by a caseworker:
“If you want to care for your grandson you will have to give up some of your constitutional rights.”
When he objected, the caseworker threatened to place the child in another foster home. Two weeks later, there was a hearing on placement of the child in a county court.
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.”
That’s when Johnson decided to pursue the matter in federal court.
Assisting Johnson in the case is the Second Amendment Foundation, which argues the state’s position violates Johnson’s civil rights.
The statements from the caseworker and judge are simply outrageous,” Alan Gottlieb, the group's founder, said in a statement. “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.”
MDHHS has not commented on the lawsuit, citing its policy is not to comment on pending litigation. Michigan does require would-be foster parents to register guns with the state and keep them unloaded and locked in a safe separate from ammunition.
In other words, this requirement totally negates the right to self-defense that is inherent in the Second Amendment and legal ownership of firearms. When a home is being invaded by criminals, who has time to get to a safe to retrieve a handgun and then find the ammunition to load it? More government convoluted logic.
By that time, the coroner would be on his way to claim the homeowner’s body.
The Johnson lawsuit mirrors other cases that have occurred in Nevada and Oklahoma, where owners of firearms have been denied the opportunity to care for foster children.
Gottlieb said the lawsuit was a necessary step in ensuring public officials respect people's rights. “This is a case we simply must pursue,” he said. “State agencies and the people who work in those agencies simply cannot be allowed to disregard someone’s civil rights.”
A related aspect of the case is that Ontonagon is a rural village of about 1,300 people along the banks of Lake Superior in the upper peninsula of Michigan. Outdoor sports such as hunting, fishing and skiing are a big part of everyday life there.
Gun ownership certainly is in keeping with the lifestyle there. Sounds like a great place for a kid to grow up. As someone who's obeyed the primary gun laws of the State of Michigan, Johnson shouldn't be treated as a second-class citizen by an overreaching state agency and tyrannical bureaucrats.