Suit to restore gun rights to Illinois foster parents allowed to proceed

A federal judge on Tuesday gave the green light to a suit against the state of Illinois’ prohibition on foster parents from possessing functional guns in their homes.

U.S. District Judge Colin Stirling Bruce, a 2013 appointment by President Obama, swatted away a motion by the state to dismiss the suit saying the would-be foster parents that brought it raised “sufficient factual allegations” to proceed to a hearing.

The suit, filed last July against the director of the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services in his official capacity, comes from Kenneth and Colleen Shults who currently have a foster child, whom they are in the process of adopting, and have been foster parents since 2007. Kenneth is a CNC shop manager who also provides his time to a youth firearms safety camp and Colleen is a nurse at a prison.

The couple said they wish to provide for their self-defense but do not keep loaded or unsecured guns in their residence because Child Services policy forbids it.

In November, Illinois state officials filed a motion to dismiss the case, arguing no court has held that foster parents’ right to firearms is guaranteed by the Second Amendment and since the Shults family chose to become foster parents, they agreed to the rules established by IDCFS beforehand. Finally, they contend there is no outright ban on firearms in foster homes, only safety regulations that they are secured.

Attorney David Sigale, representing the foster parents as well as the Illinois State Rifle Association and Second Amendment Foundation in the case, argued a locked-away firearm is of little help for those whose home is being invaded without warning.

“In such situations, every second counts, and the IDCFS firearms policy robs homeowners of those valuable seconds, if not destroys the practical ability for self-defense entirely,” wrote Sigale.

SAF founder and Executive Vice President Alan M. Gottlieb welcomed the news of ruling, which now sends the case into a discovery phase.

“We’re delighted that the judge will allow our action to go forward because it is important to establish that people do not surrender their Second Amendment rights in order to become foster parents,” said Gottlieb in a statement. “We’re in court to make sure that the state cannot discriminate against foster parents who merely wish to exercise the rights we’ve restored in Illinois.”

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