The State of New Jersey already boasts some of the strictest gun laws in the nation. Now apparently it is even illegal for a child there to appear in a photo holding a rifle.
Such a photo posted on Facebook prompted a concerned citizen to notify New Jersey’s Department of Children and Families. The agency reacted by dispatching case workers accompanied by members of the local police force to the home of Shawn Moore in Carneys Point last Friday.
CBS Philly reports that “the weapon in the photo,” which appears in the hands of a boy dressed in camouflage, “resembles a military-style assault rifle.” But Moore maintains that the rifle is actually just a .22-caliber copy. He gave the gun to his son, Josh, as an11th birthday present, to use on hunting trips.
Moore was visiting a friend when his wife phoned to tell him that state child welfare investigators were at the door along with four local police officers, demanding to inspect the family’s guns.
Moore immediately phoned his lawyer, Evan Nappen, who specializes in Second Amendment cases, and had him on speakerphone as he arrived at his house.
“They said they wanted to see into my safe and see if my guns were registered,” Moore told the website Delaware Open Carry, which first reported the story. “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 still listening in, Moore asked if the police had a warrant to search his home. When they said no, he asked them to leave. He also asked one of the child welfare officials for her name, but claims that she refused to identify herself.
State child welfare spokeswoman Kristine Brown said that when the agency 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, adding:
It’s the caseworker’s call. 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.
Says Shawn Moore:
I don’t like what happened. 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.
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