Family says officials overreacted to photo of boy with gun

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.

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.

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Parry reported from Pleasantville, N.J. He can be reached at http://twitter.com/WayneParryAC

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Comments

Noel Foss's picture

This reaction DOES seem excessive..

Especially given that he's demonstrating proper trigger discipline and is pointing the gun in a safe direction. Add to that his extensive history as an instructor, and his son's recent training, and this is definitely a non-emergency.
Fortunately they had the sense to call their lawyer to find out what their legal rights were regarding a search of the house.
Kudos to the dad for getting his kid outside and teaching him that there's more to life than video games, and for teaching him responsible firearms handling at a young age.

Bob Woodbury's picture

GREAT IDEA!!!!

Now go out and kill some of your classmates. That'll teach 'em.

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

A bit of paranoia there, eh,

A bit of paranoia there, eh, Bob? Some might conclude that you are inciting one to cause bodily harm to others.

RONALD RIML's picture

Some might even conclude that was a hunting rifle.....

ROTFLMFAO!!!!!

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

Why are you commenting on

Why are you commenting on this stuff now? It's almost 9 months old. Getting bored with today's material in your old age?

Noel Foss's picture

obviously that would be the father's extensive history,

and not the son's. Realized my sentence structure could be misconstrued there...

Eric  LeBlanc's picture

Liberals make me sick.

Liberals make me sick.

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

Conservatism is an

Conservatism is an intellectual pursuit; liberalism is an emotional orgy.

Eric  LeBlanc's picture

Liberals make me sick.

Liberals make me sick.

RONALD RIML's picture

I'm a Liberal - And I've seen gun shot victims....

Guarantee ya bullets can make you a whole helluva sicker than I can.

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

The parrot sez he once shot a

The parrot sez he once shot a man in Reno just to watch him die.

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