The Daily Globe - Serving Gogebic, Iron and Ontonagon Counties

Ontonagon families file suit against state



Ontonagon — Two Ontonagon families filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Michigan claiming that the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services violates the second amendment in their prohibition on the bearing of firearms for qualified Michigan residents who wish to be foster or adoptive parents. William and Jill Johnson and Brian and Naomi Mason specifically name Nick Lyon, director of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services in the suit.

Johnson and Mason notes the second amendment “guarantees the individual right to possess and carry weapons in case of confrontation.” The suit continues the policy of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, “Completely prohibits foster and adoptive parents, and those who would be foster or adoptive parents, from the possession and bearing of readily available firearms for the purpose of self defense.” The men say this “violates the plaintiffs constitutional rights under the second and fourteenth amendments.”

William Johnson, 54, has lived in Ontonagon for nine years and has a Michigan Concealed Pistol License. The suit alleges the Johnsons were asked by the state of Michigan to be foster parents for their grandchild but when they went to pick up the grandson at the Department of Human Service (MDHHS) Johnson was searched. He was not carrying a firearm but officials allegedly demanded to see his concealed pistol license. Johnson claims he was told by caseworkers he would have to give the department serial numbers for all his guns. He claims when he was questioned about this he was told “If you want to care for your grandson you will have to give up some of your constitutional rights.”

The suit also claims that in Gogebic County Court the Johnson family was to have the grandson formally placed with them and the “judge in passing “ told them they would have to comply with firearms restrictions if they wanted to care for their grandson. The plaintiffs in the suit also claim the judge said, “We know we are violating numerous constitutional rights here, but if you do not comply, we will remove the boy from your home.”

The Johnsons in the suit indicate they would possess and bear loaded and functional firearms for self-defense of family, but refrain from doing so because they fear their foster child/grandchild being taken away from them by the state, and or being prohibited from being foster parents in the future due to MDHHS policy.

The suit says a controversy exists as to whether the MDDHHS policy which restricts foster and adoptive parents, and would be foster and adoptive parents, the rights and privileges of possessing and bearing firearms for self defense and defense on family, is unconstitutional.

The families ask that a declaration from the court to settle this issue.

The suit does not ask for money but asks the court for a declaratory judgment that the MDHHS policy of prohibiting firearms possession and bearing these weapons by foster and adoptive parents are null and void because they infringe on the right of the people to keep and bear arms in violation of the second and fourteenth Amendments. They ask the judge to issue a preliminary and permanent injunctions against the Department for its policy.


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