Mich. grandfather told to give up gun rights to foster his grandson, lawsuit alleges

- A lawsuit filed in federal court alleges a Michigan man's Second Amendment rights were violated by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.

The complaint, filed with the United States District Court  for the Western District of Michigan, says 54-year-old William Johnson of Ontonagon, Mich. was told by a judge he had to "give up" his guns in order to foster his grandson.

William, a retired disabled Marine, and his wife, Jill, were asked by the State of Michigan to be foster parents to their grandchild. When they went to pick up the boy, they were asked to provide their Concealed Pistol License, and turn in all serial numbers for his firearms, including rifles and shotguns. Michigan requires anyone who wants to be a foster parent to register handguns with the state, as well as keep the guns unloaded and locked in a safe separate from the ammunition.

The complaint says that, when William questioned the caseworker about turning in his serial numbers, that he was told, “if you want to care for your grandson you will have to give up some of your constitutional rights.”

Moreso, the complaint states the caseworker also told the Johnsons that there "would not be a power struggle, that they would just take his grandson and place him in a foster home.”

The MDHHS later said they had "big concerns" over William exercising his Second Amendment rights and carrying a firearm.

Two weeks later, in the court hearing to have the grandson formally placed with them, the complaint says a Gogebic County Court judge told the Johnsons they'd have to comply with the firearms restrictions if they wanted to care for their grandson.

The judge allegedly said during the hearing, “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 are suing the state of Michigan, saying the MDHHS policy restricts foster and adoptive parents, and would-be foster and adoptive parents, the rights and privileges of possessing and bearing readily-available firearms for self-defense and defense as secured by the Second Amendment.

You can read the full complaint here.

The case against MDHHS also features plaintiffs Brian and Naomi Mason, who say the gun regulations keep them from becoming foster parents.

Ontonagon is a small town in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, about 115 miles west of Marquette near the Porcupine Mountains. 

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