A federal judge has rejected a demand from the state of Illinois that a lawsuit challenging its gun rules – as applied to foster parents or potential foster parents – be dismissed.
The Second Amendment Foundation, which brought the case on behalf of Kenneth and Colleen Shultz in U.S. District Court for the Central District of Illinois, said lawyers now will move to develop evidence through depositions.
The case challenges restrictions that appear to violate the Second Amendment rights of people willing to become the foster parents of needy children.
“We brought this action on behalf of the plaintiffs to establish that the state’s restrictions on the possession and carrying of firearms by foster parents is unconstitutional under both the Second and Fourteenth amendments,” said SAF founder and Executive Vice President Alan M. Gottlieb.
“We’re delighted that the judge will allow our action to go forward because it is important to establish that people do not surrender their Second Amendment rights in order to become foster parents. We’re in court to make sure that the state cannot discriminate against foster parents.”
Named as defendant is George H. Sheldon, the head of the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services.
It was U.S. District Judge Colin Stirling Bruce who said there are “sufficient factual allegations to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.”
The case alleges the state violates the civil rights of foster parents or potential foster parents by banning them from having guns.
The Illinois State Rifle Association also has joined as a plaintiff in the case.
When the case arose, WND reported how the Shultses decided a weapon was needed.
Colleen Shults works as a nurse at Danville Correctional Center under the state Department of Corrections. Months earlier, she received a letter from her employer’s Central Intelligence Unit “that prisoners in the IDOC system were using people locator websites on the Internet to learn the home addresses of IDOC staff, including correctional officers and nurses.”
“The letter warned Colleen and those like her to be careful and diligent for their safety.”
The simple answer would be to possess a firearm for defense, and generally under state law that is possible.
But the couple also has been providing foster care in the state for many years, and the policy of the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services suspends their Second Amendment rights, the lawsuit says.
“The Shultses would possess loaded and functional firearms for self-defense and defense of family, but refrain from doing so because they fear their foster children being taken away from them by the state, and/or being prohibited from being foster parents in the future, all due to the IDCFS policy complained of herein,” it states.
That rule states: “Any and all firearms and ammunition shall be locked up at all times and kept in places inaccessible to children. No firearms possessed in violation of a state or federal law or a local government ordinance shall be present in the home at any time. Loaded guns shall not be kept in a foster home unless required by law enforcement officers and in accordance with their law enforcement agency’s safety procedures.”
But the policy, the complaint states, “and all other Illinois statutory language, which restricts foster parents, and would-be foster parents, the rights and privileges of possessing and carrying firearms for self-defense and defense of family based solely on their status as foster parents, on their face and as applied, violate the plaintiffs’ individual right to possess and carry firearms for self-defense and defense of family as secured by the Second Amendment.”
SAF brought a previous suit against Chicago over its handgun ban and later against the state over its restrictions on concealed carry. It won both cases.
“It was our legal action against Chicago’s handgun ban that incorporated the Second Amendment to the states via the Fourteenth Amendment,” Gottlieb noted. “It was another of our lawsuits that forced the state legislature to adopt a concealed carry statute in Illinois. Now we’re in court to make sure that the state cannot discriminate against foster parents who merely wish to exercise the rights we’ve restored in Illinois.”
WND reported on SAF’s suit on behalf of Stephen and Krista Pursley of Moore, Oklahoma, against the Oklahoma Department of Human Services.
The state agency’s rules prevent citizens from serving as foster parents while “legally possessing functional firearms for personal protection.”
“This mandate for foster parents is not just restrictive, it’s ridiculous,” Gottlieb said when the conflict arose. “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?”
The Pursleys have served as foster parents to nearly three dozen children.
The move against foster parents is just the most recent among numerous actions brought against Second Amendment supporters in recent years. The Los Angeles Times reported the Obama administration was pushing to ban Social Security beneficiaries from owning guns if they “lack the mental capacity to manage their own affairs.”
It’s a virtual copy of a Veterans Administration plan, as WND has reported, being used against military veterans by the Obama administration.
Michael Connelly of the United States Justice Foundation has been working on the VA case since several veterans informed him they had been determined incompetent without a hearing and wanted to fight back.
According to the Social Security plan, the federal benefit recipients would be told they are incompetent and can no longer have weapons. Their names would be added to the National Instant Criminal Background Check system, which is used by governments to keep weapons out of the hands of felons, drug addicts, illegal aliens and others.
An estimated 4.2 million adults receive Social Security payments that are managed by “representative payees.”
The Times said the move is part of an effort by the Obama administration after the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, to strengthen gun control.
After Congress shot down virtually every legislative change Obama wanted, the president began to makes changes through rewriting rules and definitions, prompting criticism from the National Rifle Association.
“If the Obama administration attempts to deny millions of law-abiding citizens their constitutional rights by executive fiat, the NRA stands ready to pursue all available avenues to stop them in their tracks,” the organization said at the time.
Connelly had told WND that if the government is successful in its restrictions on Social Security recipients, there will be other targets soon.
“They could go after student loan recipients. What about people getting food stamps? Medicaid? Potentially anybody working for any government contractor,” he warned.
He said he’s been warning on on his blog that the Social Security move was coming.
He said the government was using veterans “as guinea pigs to develop methods that can be used to steal their constitutional rights.”
“Veterans get the letter from the VA telling them that because of physical or mental disabilities they are going to be declared incompetent to handle their own financial affairs, and the VA will appoint a fiduciary for them. The veterans are given 60 days to prove they are competent, which is a direct violation of the due process clause of the Constitution that requires the burden of proof be on the government,” he wrote.
“In none of the cases that we know of has there been an adjudication process with a hearing before a judge or an administrative judge. Nor have the veterans in most cases been examined by a psychiatrist, psychologist or even an MD,” he continued. “[Then Attorney General]-Eric Holder decided that anyone who works for the VA can declare veterans incompetent for any reason including having their bills paid automatically out of their bank accounts.”