Why Can’t Foster Parents Carry A Firearm?

 A commentator who raises foster children and wishes to remain anonymous writes . . .

“The children in the foster care system have been taken from their parents and are now wards of the State. The state needs someone to care for them, but not just anyone. Before you can become a foster parent the agency involved will take your fingerprints and run state and FBI background checks. They’ll check your references and conduct a financial audit. Then there’s a home safety inspection: water temp, smoke detectors, pool fencing and chemicals and medications storage, etc. Part of safety, of course, involves firearms . . .

The exact requirements re: firearms varies from state to state. Click here for a run down. Suffice it to say, Pennsylvania and Delaware are the only two states where firearms aren’t specifically mentioned by fostering authorities. The rest vary from firearms tolerant Alaska . . .

If you have guns in your home and you are a foster parent, you need to use and store your firearms in a responsible way in order to prevent injury to children. The regulations specify that in a foster home, firearms need to be stored unloaded and reasonably inaccessible to children. Ammunition is to be stored separately from the guns and in a place that children cannot access.

If an older foster child is allowed to handle a gun, foster parents must submit a firearm safety plan to the licensing worker for approval. You need to put in writing the age, background, emotional stability and maturity of the children you think are able to learn how to use a firearm. You also need to put in writing how you are going to teach the child how to use the gun safely. You also need to request the child’s placement worker to obtain advance permission from the child’s parent before letting a child handle a firearm in your home.

To “gun free” Massachusetts . . .

Any firearm located in the home shall be licensed and registered in accordance with state law and shall be trigger-locked or fully inoperable, and stored without ammunition in a locked area. Ammunition shall be stored in a separate locked area.

Not specified but banned for foster parents in The Bay State (and dozens of other states): concealed carry. Even in the most “gun friendly” U.S. states, anyone who “admits” to a fostering agency that they carry a concealed weapon is asking for a denial. Home carry? Open carry? Not in a million years.

If you’re a law enforcement officer, that’s a different story. Most foster care agencies’ firearms policies have specific exemptions for policemen or women seeking placement of a child.

The foster care agencies’ rules about firearms in foster families are understandable—to a point. The point where safe storage butts-up against the constitution right to keep and bear arms. Bear as in carry. Carry as in protecting the lives and limbs of loved ones. In fact, gun rights and foster care are only incompatible because the state says it’s so. Just as anyone who wants to foster knows that discretion—or submission—is the better part of valor.

I will comply with the rules on firearms because my wife and I think fostering is important. In my life and neighborhood the chance that I’ll need a gun for self-defense are relatively small. But I wonder about a lower income foster parent and or children. Don’t these foster parents deserve the right to exercise their legal right to armed self defense?Why must this right be abdicated to help out these unfortunate children?”