The Daily Globe - Serving Gogebic, Iron and Ontonagon Counties

Ontonagon family back in federal court

 

June 11, 2018



By JAN TUCKER

jantuck@jamadots.com

Ontonagon — The case of a gun issue between an Ontonagon family and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services was back in federal court last week. William and Jill Johnson and Brian and Naomi Mason, of Ontonagon had sued the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services claiming the state had violated their second amendment with their requirements concerning licensing foster parents who have guns in the home.

The Johnson’s claimed they were told by DHHS officials they were denied to become a foster parents to their grandson because of the gun issue and filed the suit. Johnson is now licensed as a foster care provider and has foster children.

The DHHS filed a motion in Federal Court asking Judge Paul Maloney to dismiss the lawsuit because Johnson now has the license. The Johnson’s claim they filed the lawsuit before the license was approved. The Johnson’s claim DHHS rules classifying guns as “hazardous materials” and requiring guns and bullets stored separately in locked containers restricts their constitutional right.

The DHHS attorney claimed this rule did not mean what it purports to mean and even if it did, it would not restrict the Johnson’s right to defend themselves. Johnson said the Judge went through a scenario that if someone lives in a rural area and someone breaks into their home, the owner would need to open the safe, get the firearm, then go to a different room, open another safe to get the ammunition and then put them together.

Oral arguments went on in the Kalamazoo court for over 90 minutes.

Maloney did not make a decision on the issue, but ordered both sides to submit a brief and gave them more time to brief the issue of “scrutiny.” The DHHS, Johnson said, wants the case to be argued under intermediate or rational scrutiny. The Johnson’s want it judged under “strict” scrutiny. According to the definition, “strict scrutiny” is a form of judicial review that courts use to determine the constitutionality of an issue.

The decision on scrutiny will be decided by the judge after the briefs are filed.

 
 

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