Headline: Gun Rights Group Blasts Rules On Firearms In Foster, Childcare Homes

The Gongwer News Service reported recently on testimony offered in Columbus by Buckeye Firearms Association President Jim Irvine.

From the article:

Rules prescribing safety measures for foster parents were delayed this week after gun advocates warned that restrictions on firearm storage would likely be found unconstitutional.

The Ohio Department of Job and Family Services' foster care rules were scheduled to come before the Joint Committee on Agency Rule Review Monday, but the agency removed from the agenda.

ODJFS spokesman Ben Johnson said the agency identified a problem with one of the other rules in the package and plans to re-file them for a future hearing.

While ODJFS's safety regulations on foster homes already require providers to keep guns and ammunition "stored in an inoperative condition in a locked area inaccessible to children," the agency planned to revise the broader rule to include similar requirements for prescription drugs and to prohibit the use of unvented kerosene heaters.

Buckeye Firearms Association President Jim Irvine said during a recent public hearing on the rule that the gun provision resembled Washington D.C.'s firearm storage law, which the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled an unconstitutional violation of Second Amendment rights.

He cited the 2008 District of Columbia v. Heller opinion and a subsequent court case that extended the ruling to the states. Mr. Irvine argued the ODJFS rule must specifically allow occupants to carry guns in foster homes for self-defense.

"This rule needs to immediately be removed or face a court challenge that is almost guaranteed to be a court victory for foster parents," he said in testimony.

Mr. Irvine also challenged an existing ODJFS rule that requires childcare providers working in their homes to keep guns and ammunition in locked storage areas out of sight of the children.

"By requiring separate storage of firearms and ammunition, (the rule) renders the gun inoperable and is thus unconstitutional under Heller," he said.

Gongwer reported that Mr. Johnson "declined to comment on the group's concerns."

In his testimony, Mr. Irvine included a table showing that unintentional firearm deaths to children aged zero to nine totaled only 36 in 2010, far fewer than other causes of death. Meanwhile, 609 children drowned that year, 923 died in auto accidents, and 1,070 were victims of unintentional suffocation, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control data he cited.

"Considering the table above, and the real dangers associated with various risks, there is no justifiable reason to place such onerous restrictions on firearms compared to other potential hazards," he said.

Given that foster children often come from violent homes, it is conceivable that they stand a greater risk of home invasion or criminal attack by an estranged parent, he said.

"Foster parents with a valid concealed handgun license can offer an extra safety net and foster rules should seek to enhance the extra ability, not suppress it," Mr. Irvine said. "The current rules prohibit the use of firearms in defense of foster children."

Chad D. Baus is the Buckeye Firearms Association Secretary, BFA PAC Vice Chairman, and an NRA-certified firearms instructor.

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