Bill and Jill Johnson protest Michigan ban on foster parents’ carrying concealed weapons. The result could affect gun owners nationwide.
In a case that could have implications for gun owners nationwide, Bill Johnson and his wife, Jill, are suing their home state, Michigan, which bars foster parents from carrying concealed weapons. At issue is whether the rule amounts to a “functional ban” on owning a firearm, in violation of the Constitution’s Second Amendment, the New York Times reports. “This is not a case that’s outlandish or off the wall,” said Adam Winkler, a law professor at the University of California, Los Angeles. “Foster parents do have constitutional rights, and they don’t forsake those rights just because they become foster parents.”
Most states have regulations on gun ownership for foster parents; having guns locked and stored in safes, with ammunition locked and stored separately, is a standard requirement. The goal is to ensure the safety of children, many of them troubled, in foster care. Some foster parents and lawmakers, as well as gun rights advocates, are pushing back, especially in states that bar concealed permit-holders from carrying their weapons if they are caring for foster children. In 2011, Texas enacted a measure allowing foster parents to carry weapons in their cars. Nevada legislators adopted a bill in 2015 that overturned state regulations and explicitly allowed foster parents to possess guns if they are law enforcement officers or have permits to carry concealed weapons. In the Michigan case, Johnson has carried a concealed handgun, with a permit, for the past decade. He says he has been forced to give up carrying his gun “under duress” because he wants to become a foster parent to his grandson