N.J. child welfare workers ask to see family’s guns; Dad says it’s because he posted a photo on Facebook

A family in New Jersey says that child welfare workers and police showed up at their house and asked see the family’s guns. They parent’s say they believe it was because the dad posted a photo on Facebook of his son posing with his 11-year-old birthday present — a .22-caliber rifle that loos like a military-style assault rifle. Here’s the story.

From The Associated Press:

“The ruddy-cheeked, camouflage-clad boy in the photo smiles out from behind a pair of glasses, proudly holding a gun his father gave him as a present for his upcoming 11th birthday. (Click the link to see the photo of the boy.)

“The weapon in the photo, posted by his dad on Facebook, resembles a military-style assault rifle but, his father says, is actually just a .22-caliber copy. And that, the family believes, is why child welfare case workers and police officers visited the home in Carneys Point last Friday and asked to see his guns.

“New Jersey’s Department of Children and Families declined to comment specifically on the case but says it often follows up on tips. The family and an attorney say father Shawn Moore’s Second Amendment rights to bear arms were threatened in a state that already has some of the nation’s strictest gun laws and is considering strengthening them after December’s schoolhouse massacre in Connecticut.

“In this case, the family believes someone called New Jersey’s anonymous child abuse hotline.

“Shawn Moore said he gave his son Josh the gun as a present to use on hunting trips. The elder Moore was at a friend’s house when his wife called, saying state child welfare investigators, along with four local police officers, were at the house, asking to inspect the family’s guns.

“Moore said he called his lawyer Evan Nappen, who specializes in Second Amendment cases, and had him on speakerphone as he arrived at his house in Carneys Point, just across the Delaware River from Wilmington, Del.

“They said they wanted to see into my safe and see if my guns were registered,” Moore said. “I said no; in New Jersey, your guns don’t have to be registered with the state; it’s voluntary. I knew once I opened that safe, there was no going back.”

“With the lawyer listening in on the phone, Moore said he asked the investigators and police officers whether they had a warrant to search his home. When they said no, he asked them to leave. One of the child welfare officials would not identify herself when Moore asked for her name, he said.

“The agents and the police officers left, and nothing has happened since, he said.”

“I don’t like what happened,” he said. “You’re not even safe in your own house. If they can just show up at any time and make you open safes and go through your house, that’s not freedom; it’s like tyranny.”

“State child welfare spokeswoman Kristine Brown said that when it receives a report of suspected abuse or neglect, it assigns a caseworker to follow up. She said law enforcement officers are asked to accompany caseworkers only if the caseworkers feel their safety could be compromised.”

“It’s the caseworker’s call,” she said. “It is important to note the way an investigation begins is through the child abuse hotline. Someone has to call to let us know there is a concern.”

“Carneys Point Police Chief Robert DiGregorio did not answer a call late Tuesday to his office.”

So what do you think? Is it wrong to shoot or post photos of your kids with guns? Does that warrant a visit from child welfare and police? What would you have done if child welfare showed up at your door?

90 comments Add your comment

malleesmom

March 20th, 2013
6:24 am

To answer your questions..No. No. and I would guess DH would respond in the same manner. I just watched an interview with the father and son. Welfare services and the police knew they were out of line and have not returned with a search warrant. This father knows the laws for his State and knew he was not in violation.

Phil's lover

March 20th, 2013
6:42 am

As a Liberal and a gun owner I find this outrageous.

I hope this family raises a big enough stink that the caseworker is fired and the cops are suspended for a long time at the very least.

This is bullspit.

Word

March 20th, 2013
7:00 am

Giving an 11-year old child a gun is about as bright as giving the child an i-Phone.

@Phil’s lover – The Governor should be recalled, too…..right?

homeschooler

March 20th, 2013
7:01 am

Just wondering..Why would you want the case worker fired or the police? The police and caseworkers that show up at people’s doors are only following directions from higher up. Other than her not giving her name it sounds like she handled it exactly how I would have as a DFCS case worker. She might have thought it was as stupid as we do. She had to go there or she would be fired. The police often accompany a dfcs worker just for the protection of the worker and may not have been investigating anything at all. It sounds like they left as soon as the father refused entry.
IF the only thing reported to NJ DYFS was that this picture was taken and posted, there is no maltreatment. Someone who assigns cases at that office needs to explain why this was assigned in the first place. Some agencies have policies in which cases can not be screened out. Meaning every single call must be investigated. A bad practice that I’m glad GA DFCS does not have.
I will comment more later when I have more time.

homeschooler

March 20th, 2013
7:09 am

@ Word. That is just your opinion. I know 9 yr olds who own guns, hunt with their dads, shoot targets etc.. They are not running around playing with guns. They are the kids who are taught appreciation for them and are careful and mature. Much more mature than your average 11 yr old couch potato who has never touched a gun but has shot up numerous people on his x-box. Why are people so tolerant of other cultures but when the culture is “rural white people” who live right and don’t bother anybody suddenly we want to slam them and take their rights away?

HB

March 20th, 2013
7:33 am

Wow. Good for Dad not letting them in. If the kid had been doing something unsafe in the photo (like pointing the gun at someone), that would have been worth checking on, but this is a little boy holding a typical beginner rifle in a perfectly safe manner, assuming the safety is on. I’m pretty sure there’s a similar picture of me somewhere holding my dad’s .22 around the time he taught be about gun safety and shooting.

justmy2cents

March 20th, 2013
7:41 am

I have pics of my girls holding their .22, my 9 & .380, and their dad’s .357. They’ve rented the .22 “assault rifle” style at the gun range and they love it. They are trained on how to properly & safely use every weapon we have in the house. Don’t see the big deal….so my answers would be no, no, and shut the door.

Me

March 20th, 2013
7:43 am

To answer your questions: No, No, and they could explain what laws were broken or find their way out of my business.

Mother of 2

March 20th, 2013
7:43 am

The man posted a photo of an 11 year old with what looked like an assault weapon and child services was called. The police accompanied the case worker for safety reasons. Once it was determined that the gun was not an assault weapon, and the guns were locked in a safe, the case worker and police officer left. This was an inconvenience for the parents of the boy, not an outrage.

There are responsible gun owners and irresponsible gun owners in this country. This family sounds responsible – they locked up their guns so that their 11 year old child couldn’t access them without parental permission. If child services did not investigate and that child hurt himself or someone else there would be an outcry.

I understand that the parents felt defensive that child services showed up at their door. No one wants their parenting skills to be questioned by a stranger who knows nothing about their own circumstances. Child services is an entity for children’s welfare, not adults’ welfare. If I saw a child with a gun without parental supervision I would call the authorities as well. I think the parents need to get over it and move on. If they can’t get over their outrage, they might be better off educating the public about responsible gun ownership.

mom2alex&max

March 20th, 2013
7:47 am

You know, we can’t win for losing when it comes to guns in this country. I wonder what would have happened if someone had reported that a wealthy single woman in Newton, CT had an arsenal of guns while living with a deranged kid.

FCM

March 20th, 2013
7:59 am

You watch Duck Dynesty? I garauntee you those men (Willie, Jase, Jep, and the as yet unseen Al) were taught to respect weapons at an early age and how to use them. (Weapons not guns…ask any military male what a gun is and he will probably look at his pants!).

I grew up in East Cobb (80s) and Friday before hunting season at least half the male population of Wheeler High School was absent. Many were absent the week before too. Those tree stands and campsites do not get themselves set up. They too were taught to respect weapons. They certainly did not bring them to school nor did we think they would. I also never worried about being out on a date with them, I was very safe from muggers and the like.

The kid in the picture looks like the guys I knew growing up. He has a respect for the weapon.

What really should be looked at is why someone wanted to call the hotline about the photo. Probably a worry wort helicopter parent who lacks sense. She saw a weapon and thought…oh my little Billy (or Susie) knows that boy, now they will be killed. So instead of talking the parents she goes and calls the goverment. Plus sense it was facebook it has to be someone who knows the family!!! So yeah, they should just talk to the person. And yes, I am postive the call had to be from a female.

My neighbor got a 9mm for Christmas. Loved the photo she posted when she opened it. I have no worries about my children playing at that house.

Crud….now I need a redneck that understands Comic Con and can live with my love of Broadway…no wonder I am single. ROFL.

(the other) Rodney

March 20th, 2013
7:59 am

I’m just glad it wasn’t in the South (for a change).

Does anyone else find it a bit odd that this man happens to have a lawyer who specializes in 2nd Am rights? Is that something you really put a retainer on? Or does that seem a bit paranoid?

FCM

March 20th, 2013
8:03 am

and one that can overlook my typos…sorry I was talking to someone while I typed…I do know sense vs. since. Also, how to spell Government and guarantee

MomsRule

March 20th, 2013
8:12 am

No, no and hopefully I would have responded in a similar fashion.

I find it strange that the child care worker wouldn’t give her name. And, I understand taking an officer with you on a call but four seems a bit extreme.

@Word, My kids have Iphones and Ipads (gasp!). The youngest is 13 and he has had one for a couple of years now. As you have lumped phones and guns together your intelligence and common sense obviously surpass mine. I will be sure to consult you on my next parenting decision.

MomsRule

March 20th, 2013
8:13 am

@ (the other) Rodney … maybe the lawyer is also a friend….

Phil's lover

March 20th, 2013
8:15 am

Word – What does the duly elected Governor have to do with this? I don’t like Christie nor do I like Deal but they were elected by the voters. Why on earth do you think I favor overturning the will of the electorate? You are a perfect example of why this country is getting more and more polarized.

Just stop.

Homeschooler – Please re-read the post. It states very clearly that NJDFACS “OFTEN” follows up on tips not “ALWAYS” not “REQUIRED”. This means someone’s judgement drove the home visit. Whomever made the decision to conduct a home visit with police accompniment with nothing more to go on that a family was exercising their 2nd Amendment rights is dangerous and should not be in a position to do this ever again.

No matter how well intentioned, if we become subject to government intrusions into our lives simply because someone doesn’t like our parenting style – AND WE’RE DOING NOTHING ILLEGAL – we’re all in deep trouble.

Do you want the Government dictating these things? Do you want any government representative to have the abilty to insert itself into how you raise your children or live your life simply because some nervous, judgmental so and so thinks badly of you?

Again I say: this is bullspit.

yuki

March 20th, 2013
8:19 am

@homeschooler…….@ Word. That is just your opinion. I know 9 yr olds who own guns, hunt with their dads, shoot targets etc.. They are not running around playing with guns. They are the kids who are taught appreciation for them and are careful and mature. Much more mature than your average 11 yr old couch potato who has never touched a gun but has shot up numerous people on his x-box. Why are people so tolerant of other cultures but when the culture is “rural white people” who live right and don’t bother anybody suddenly we want to slam them and take their rights away?

Very well said.

Misty

March 20th, 2013
8:40 am

I’m glad the kid is learning how to be responsible with guns. However, it made me think ‘what was the father thinking about or does he have something to hide by specifically getting a lawyer on his speed dial that deals specifically with 2nd amendment rights?’ There is more to the story that what we’re told.

Just Me Thinking...

March 20th, 2013
8:46 am

All you people condemning CPS and the police do realize that for them to show up mean that someone who either knows this family or is one of the father’s facebook friends had to have called them. CPS doesn’t just show up out of the blue. They only investigate when a call is made. CPS has to invesigate. Investigate does not mean open a case and moniter…just look into it. It COULD have been an unsafe situation. Fortunately it wasn’t. Since nothing was found they will probably just move on. Instead of going to the press and sensationalizing it, what the family needs to worry about is who in their lives think they are a screwups as parents. SOMEBODY made the call that started all this. Next time you guys want to get on your high horses about CPS showin up remember that 1. They are workers doing their jobs just like you and 2. Someone who knows the family in some way called them.

Just Me Thinking...

March 20th, 2013
8:53 am

Oh and would you give your name to a person you know has guns, could potenially be crazy, and is an internet search away from finding you and doing you and your family harm. Depending on the details of the call, the police may have thought there could be a shooting. You never know until you get there. I’m with Misty there is more to this story. Maybe the parents set it up. It wouldnt be the first time someone did something like this to get attention. Remember the family with the balloon.

Old School

March 20th, 2013
9:02 am

Regardless of your views on guns (anti or pro), a police raid based on a Facebook photo is just plain wrong on so many levels. If that tactic was ‘ok’ then . . . why don’t they also raid homes (kick in doors?) based photos that clearly show under-aged drinking, pot smoking, speeding in a car, etc. etc.) Could YOUR family survive a ‘photo’ check by police for possible illegalities?

Rights are rights, regardless of your will and misguided desire to impose your opinions on others. Tell me I’m wrong.

Phil's lover

March 20th, 2013
9:11 am

Those of you posting that “there must be more to this” are just fishing for excuses to side with the government and justify their actions.

As for the one poster above asserting “CPS has to investigte,” please re-read the post. Your point is nullified by the use of the word “often” not “required” not “always” not “must.”

Y’all’s willingness to accept government intrusion into citizen’s lives based on pure conjecture is scary.

Parent

March 20th, 2013
9:19 am

Why would a person call in a complaint about a person holding a gun? Was it being held or used in an unsafe manner? Was the 11-year-old breaking a law? Is a photo evidence that the guns are being stored improperly? The person who called in the complaint was just an anti-gun nut.

No, this is just an overreation by DFACS. The bad thing is that DFACS is not present in SERIOUS cases because they say they are “too overloaded” with cases. Yet they have time to check out these frivolous complaints.

Parent

March 20th, 2013
9:21 am

This reminds me of the story of the teacher fired for having a Facebook photo of her drinking beer IN GERMANY while on vacation.

Get a grip, people.

Decatur Guy

March 20th, 2013
9:27 am

“They parent’s say they believe it ”

The AJC has a problem with not proofing their columns.

As for this article, it is the 2nd amendment that gives law abiding citizens the right to bear arms. The only people who have a problem with guns are people who hate the US Constitution.

Decatur Guy

March 20th, 2013
9:29 am

” Is it wrong to shoot or post photos of your kids with guns? Does that warrant a visit from child welfare and police? What would you have done if child welfare showed up at your door?”

1: Depends on what they’re doing with the gun.
2: If the police showed up at my house I’d ask them for a warrant. If they don’t have one, I’d ask them to get the eff off of my property.
3: Again, I’d ask for a warrant. IF they refuse to leave, I’d call my lawyer and sue the living crap out of them.

Decatur Guy

March 20th, 2013
9:29 am

“Giving an 11-year old child a gun is about as bright as giving the child an i-Phone.

I learned to shoot a shotgun at age 10. Your logic is flawed.

Decatur Guy

March 20th, 2013
9:30 am

““With the lawyer listening in on the phone, Moore said he asked the investigators and police officers whether they had a warrant to search his home. When they said no, he asked them to leave.”

Smart parent who knows their rights.

Decatur Guy

March 20th, 2013
9:32 am

““They said they wanted to see into my safe and see if my guns were registered,” Moore said. “I said no; in New Jersey, your guns don’t have to be registered with the state; it’s voluntary. I knew once I opened that safe, there was no going back.”

Again, another smart move. The folks who showed up and asked to see his safe should lose their jobs over this because they obviously don’t even know their own laws.

Decatur Guy

March 20th, 2013
9:34 am

“Why would you want the case worker fired or the police?

Because they don’t know their own laws. That’s why.

Decatur Guy

March 20th, 2013
9:34 am

” I wonder what would have happened if someone had reported that a wealthy single woman in Newton, CT had an arsenal of guns while living with a deranged kid.

Nothing would have happened. The guns were bought legally.

Parent

March 20th, 2013
9:34 am

What if DFACS shows up at your door and demands to see what video games your kids are playing…

Decatur Guy

March 20th, 2013
9:36 am

“The man posted a photo of an 11 year old with what looked like an assault weapon and child services was called. The police accompanied the case worker for safety reasons. Once it was determined that the gun was not an assault weapon, and the guns were locked in a safe, the case worker and police officer left. This was an inconvenience for the parents of the boy, not an outrage.”

What is an assault weapon? People who don’t know anything about guns aren’t the brightest when it comes to guns.

Parent

March 20th, 2013
9:37 am

” I wonder what would have happened if someone had reported that a wealthy single woman in Newton, CT had an arsenal of guns while living with a deranged kid.”

“Kid” is not the proper term, “adult” would be, since he was 20 years old. DFACS would have no jurisdiction.

Decatur Guy

March 20th, 2013
9:37 am

” Next time you guys want to get on your high horses about CPS showin up remember that 1. They are workers doing their jobs just like you and 2. Someone who knows the family in some way called them.”

WRONG!!!!!!!!

Decatur Guy

March 20th, 2013
9:38 am

““Kid” is not the proper term, “adult” would be, since he was 20 years old. DFACS would have no jurisdiction.

EXACTLY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Ann

March 20th, 2013
9:40 am

I agree with “@ (the other) Rodney”. If you have a personal lawyer already, who specializes in 2nd amendment rights, it raises suspicion. If you are anticipating, in advance, having legal trouble with 2nd amendment rights, then you don’t appear to be just your average, ordinary “hunter” having guns as a hobby. I doubt that most hunters have 2nd amendment legal specialists on standby.

So, my question would be why did he expect this, in advance? It’s a bit of a “too convenient” coincidence, having a legal specialist to call immediately while on your way home. There’s probably more to this story. Perhaps the person (or his lawyer) is looking for a “case” to garner attention to support 2nd amendment rights in the face of the new gun laws being discussed. Embarrassing authorities for “overstepping” a family’s rights would certainly stir up support for your cause (and for your legal business).

Parent

March 20th, 2013
9:41 am

If you posted a picture on Facebook of your 11-year old son posing behind the steering wheel of your car, would you expect DFACS to show up to see if you are letting him drive around?

Parent

March 20th, 2013
9:42 am

“They are workers doing their jobs just like you”

Then they should have absolutely no problem with giving their names.

Decatur Guy

March 20th, 2013
9:42 am

If you posted a pic on Facebook of an 11 year old holding a hammer would you call DFACS on them?

Hammers killed more Americans than guns last year.

Decatur Guy

March 20th, 2013
9:50 am

89 million gun owners didn’t kill anyone last year.

Don't Tread

March 20th, 2013
9:57 am

My answers are: No, No, and “the same thing”.

Posting a picture of a kid holding a legally owned firearm is not a crime. DFACS nor anyone else has the right to search your house for anything without a warrant. That being said, the feds are busy collecting any and all information about you electronically without your knowledge or consent (and for all you Facebook users, that includes your Facebook postings). Big Brother is watching. Welcome to “1984″.

Ann

March 20th, 2013
10:06 am

I agree with “(the other) Rodney”. It seems a little suspicious to have a 2nd amendment lawyer on retainer. I doubt that a typical gun owner or hobby hunter has that. Seems like someone may have been looking for a “case” to garner support in the face of these potential new laws or drum up business for their law firm. Closer scrutiny of this “story” is warranted.

southpaw

March 20th, 2013
10:07 am

Moore handled the situation exactly right. I don’t fault the caseworker for investigating, so that abuse could be ruled out, but the law itself could use a change. It’s too easy for a troublemaker to make bogus charges on the anonymous tip line and waste the time of both the parents and the caseworker. I can understand the need to hide the tipster’s identity from the family, but parents should have SOME recourse against false charges. I suggest allowing access to the phone records to licensed attorneys. Falsely accused parents could then hire an attorney to pursue a slander case. They wouldn’t find out who talked trash about them, but they could get paid for their trouble. This would also give tipsters incentive to think about whether they really want to accuse parents of something.

homeschooler

March 20th, 2013
10:08 am

@Phil’s lover. As I said, someone who made the decision to go out if there was no maltreatment should be questioned. NOT the caseworker who was only doing her job.

@ Old school..I will say there are many scenarios in which fb photos and statuses have resulted in DFCS investigations.

What about a woman holding her newborn baby, obviously high, (eyes droopy, slumped over in the chair) with a caption that reads “just smoked a joint”. Shouldn’t someone check on that baby?

How about a newborn with a gang bandana on and a pistol laid across his chest and a caption that reads “that’s my boy”.

As I said earlier. If there was nothing more to this than the picture DYFS should have never gone out but all someone has to do is add a little bit to the concern. “The kids are home alone a lot and I don’t think the parents keep those guns locked up”. Then the person making the decision at DYFS has to ask themselves. “if those guns are not locked up and one of those kids get shot, it’s on me”.

We only heard one side of this story and the other side can’t speak due to confidentiality. We, nor the parents have any idea what was said on that initial call that may have warranted the visit.

That being said, in NJ and other states, officials, neighbors, teachers etc..are imposing their moral and cultural beliefs on others and crossing a fine line. The problem is that DFCS must check on situations that are brought to their attention so a lot falls back on the communities, teachers etc.. to be relatively sure that there is a concern before making that call.

One more thing, I am a constitutional conservative boarding on libertarian. I truly believe in people standing by their rights. However, I also see the side of society that is a serious danger to kids. The side that forces us to have to go out and check on families. We can’t have legalized drugs because the kids will suffer. We can’t fully trust that people with guns are all going to keep them locked up and teach their kids to use them properly because there are too many people who don’t. Know your rights but please don’t blame the police or DFCS for just trying to keep people safe. You’re not giving up your rights but talking kindly to the police or DFCS if they ask you a few questions. I guarantee that if you are reasonable they will be too. Even if you say, no, I’m not comfortable talking to you without my lawyer or no you can’t enter my home. They will go away and if there is enough concern they WILL come back with a warrant. You don’t have to be hateful or ugly or run to reporters with your story.

non committal mind reader

March 20th, 2013
10:38 am

““They said they wanted to see into my safe and see if my guns were registered,” Moore said. “I said no; in New Jersey, your guns don’t have to be registered with the state; it’s voluntary. I knew once I opened that safe, there was no going back.”

This is not an indication that the police do not know the law. This is an indication that POLICE LIE, AND LIE OFTEN. THEY ARE UNDER NO OBLIGATION TO TELL THE TRUTH. Frankly, it astounds me that people do not know this. The Police can tell lies. They can lie to you to get you to talk. They can lie to get inside your house. If you ask an undercover cop if he is an undercover cop, he can lie! The can lie to you about how they are going to prosecute you. They can lie about the time of day. They can lie to you about ANYTHING they want to .

YOU, OTOH, cannot lie to them. If you lie to them, you can be prosecuted for perjury.

Do not let police into your home without a warrant, do not talk to police except in the presence of your attorney.

just me

March 20th, 2013
11:13 am

I love how people post their private family moments on facebook for all the world to see then scream about their privacy being violated. I understand that this family has a right to own guns and they have not broken any laws. But the person that reported them to DFCS hasn’t broken any laws and the DFCS worker is just doing her job within the guidelines of the law. Every action has a reaction and you don’t always get to choose that reaction. If you truly want to be left alone to live your life then stop broadcasting it on the web. Common sense.

catlady

March 20th, 2013
11:46 am

Dad: They did NOT “make you open the gun safe.” They asked, you said no, story was over.

Warrior Woman

March 20th, 2013
11:56 am

@TWG – No, it is most definitely NOT wrong to shoot or post photos of guns, with or without children. And no, doing so is not grounds for visits from child welfare, police, or any other government body. I would respond just as this dad did, with a request to tender a search warrant or leave my property.

@Word – It’s more accurate to say that giving an 11-year-old a gun makes as much sense as giving an 11-year-old a bicycle. Both make perfect sense. I learned to shoot as soon as I could hold a youth-sized .22 rifle (around 8 years old), and taught my children beginning at about the same age. They first learned to shoot rifles, then pistols, and later shotguns. We continue to shoot targets and skeet as a family outing, even though the three oldest are adults.

@homeschooler – The police or the caseworker – whichever asked to inspect the family’s guns – should be fired for violating the family’s constitutional rights. Additionally, the caseworker should be fired for refusal to identify herself. Further, your examples of investigations that should be opened based on FB photos are ridiculous. The first is an example of clearly illegal behavior (or at least claims of illegal behavior), which can surely be identified by something other than Big Brother invading one’s privacy. The second – your gun example – is no grounds for an investigation. “Gang colors” can be as simple as red or blue clothing and we have the right to own guns and take pictures with them. An infant is a bit young for firearms training, but then again,you would be hard-pressed to tell a fake/toy gun from a real one based on an FB photo as well.

@Just Me – If the photo was a FaceBook profile picture or cover photo, it is visible to anyone, whether they are your FB friend or not. Opening a DFACS case does not require a tipline call. Caseworkers’ management can open cases on their own. This whole stupid play by DFACS could be the result of a nosy DFACS employee that saw a photo while searching for something or someone else and decided to go on an anti-gun tirade.

Grasshopper

March 20th, 2013
12:05 pm

This is the world that many liberals want; a world in which government agents can show up at your house and demand that you do what they want and show them what you have without court order.

This is a reason that we need guns.