Concealed Carry, Adoption and Foster Parents
One of the last frontiers for gun rights is regarding adoption and fostering, as the laws regarding concealed carry, adoption and foster parenting are - as with other aspects of gun rights - inconsistent. At present, the matter is delegated to the various states.
As a result, the issues involved with adoption or fostering and CCW vary from state to state, just like ccw reciprocity. Bear in mind, this is not meant to serve as legal advice - in any way at all - but rather is meant to inform.
Can Foster Parents Own Guns?
Can foster parents own guns? Generally, yes...though normally with restrictions. Only a few states (such as Pennsylvania) don't regulate firearms in the home when it comes to placing children with foster parents. Some place moderate restrictions, and others are downright Draconian.
Most common is a mandate for safe storage and at that, there is a common guideline for safe storage among many states. (If considering fostering or adoption, consult your state laws regarding adoption and foster care.) Many will find that the state mandates firearms be stored in a locking container of some sort, unloaded. Ammunition must likewise be store in a separate locked container.
Some states mandate that firearms be totally locked as well as unloaded, others may permit otherwise. It all comes down to the laws of the individual state that one resides in. However, one may have to prepare for the possibility that all guns and ammunition must be locked away and separately.
Adoption and fostering involves strict scrutiny before a fostering or adoption can proceed. Background checks are conducted, the home is inspected, financial records reviewed and the potential adopting/foster parents are interviewed. The gun question WILL likely come up. However, in many instances the adoption/foster agency will come recommend a plan to comply with regulations concerning fostering or adoption into homes with firearms.
What About Adoption and CCW?
Adoption and CCW is another matter. Whilst almost all states allow for gun ownership if adopting or fostering, not many provide for concealed carrying. In some jurisdictions, it may result in an automatic denial, even if not technically grounds for denial.
There are some recent examples of foster parents and aspiring adopters that have been denied as a result of concealed carrying. Take, for instance, the case of Stephen and Krista Pursley. The Pursleys, residents of Oklahoma, are suing the state - though suit was actually filed on their behalf by the Second Amendment Foundation - for denying their foster parent applications due to their carrying concealed weapons.
Oklahoma adheres to the general guideline of most states, namely that firearms must locked away, with either the safety on or unloaded, and ammunition locked away separately. That standard, according to The Daily Beast, is from the American Academy of Pediatrics, which was adopted as the standard by Oklahoma's Department of Health and Safety, as it was likewise by many other states. Their suit alleges violation of both Second and Fourteenth Amendment rights. The suit was filed in Jan. 2016, so at the time of this writing it is a going concern.
Nevada, by contrast, does allow SOME concealed carrying with foster or adopted children present. In fact, according to Guns.com, legislation was passed by that state in mid-2015, allowing for foster parents to carry loaded guns if engaged in "lawful activity" and even concealed carry in some circumstances.
However, that law was passed too late to benefit Rod and Kristi Beber. The Bebers, just like the Pursleys, are gracious and generous enough to foster children not of their own issue in their home. Just like the Pursleys, they also believe in the Second Amendment, and Rod has at least one firearm in the home. In April 2015, an argument escalated wildly between neighbors of the Bebers. Kristi dialed 911, Rod armed himself and went outside to monitor the situation and protect his family if need be. The police didn't charge him with anything and life went on.
Within three months, their foster parenting license was revoked, as was the license of another couple whose crime was having concealed carry permits. The new legislation will prevent these incidents from occurring again, but the children the Bebers were fostering have not been returned to them.
What To Do If You Own Guns And Are Considering Adoption
It's unfortunate that people who concealed carry are being excluded from the adoption and foster parenting process. Frankly, there are more children that need fostering or adoption than there are homes for them to go to.
However, until legislation is passed in every state or at the federal level, or a federal court rules against draconian firearms restrictions on foster parents, the law of the land in many states is that firearms must be stored unloaded or fully locked, and ammunition stored separately. If you are a gun owner, and you are considering adoption or fostering, you should prepare yourself for having to do so.
That said, if you go through the fostering and adoption application process, be forthright. Many agencies are willing to work out a plan with you so that you can foster or adopt and still keep your firearms. It is sad, but for the time being apparently true, that you have to choose between your right as an American and a sorely needed virtuous act. Hopefully, these pernicious laws can be changed in lieu of a realistic solution.
About The Author
Born in southeastern Washington State, Sam Hoober graduated in 2011 from Eastern Washington University. He resides in the great Inland Northwest, with his wife and child. His varied interests include camping, hunting, concealed carry, and spending time at the gun range as often as possible..