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07.20.07 VICTORY FOR GUN OWNERS AND FOSTER PARENTS.

A VICTORY FOR GUN OWNERS AND FOSTER PARENTS.

In January of 2007, as the last legislative session was getting underway, the Oregon Firearms Federation heard from several foster parents who had been informed that their right to own and use firearms was incompatible with their desire to help children in need.

Talia Heath wrote:

“Dear OFF,
Just wanted to say thanks for your efforts to protect our rights. I specifically want to thank you for taking action in regard to DHS’s restrictions for foster parents.
My husband and I are foster parents but our home is currently on hold because of this issue. We are both CHL holders and have had to choose between fighting for our rights and taking care of needy children. This is a horrible position to be in. Thank you for what you are doing on our behalf. Please let us know if there is any way we can be of help in this area.”

The Department of Human Services, which oversees the foster parent program, had informed them that new rules were in place that drastically reduced their ability to possess firearms. Concealed handgun license holders were not exempt.

The DHS rules essentially rendered all firearms in a foster home inaccessible and useless.

OFF agreed that it was absurd to trust adults with CHILDREN, but not firearms. We asked the State Representative Jerry Krummel to investigate.

Krummel is blessed with one of the hardest working staffers in Salem, Dawn Phillips. Phillips contacted DHS and demanded an explanation for a rule they have no authority to make.

In the ensuring months, Phillips kept OFF informed of all the efforts she was making to get DHS to comply with the law, and every effort DHS was making to avoid complying.

Legislative Counsel (the lawyers for the legislature) wrote an opinion reaffirming what gun owners, and others who read the law knew. DHS has NO authority to regulate firearms without the express permission of the legislature. Oregon’s Attorney General concurred.

DHS has now agreed that their rule was unlawful and has rescinded it.

This is a victory for gun owners, foster parents, foster children and the rule of law.

It is still essential that foster parents and gun owners continue to provide input. No doubt there will be efforts made in the future to restore these restrictions.

The agency is seeking public comment on new rules for certification standards through August 23rd. You can learn more about the rules on their web site: http://www.dhs.state.or.us/policy/childwelfare/drafts/2007/ii-b1.pdf or call 503-945-6897 or 503-945-5651.

We thank the foster parents who had the courage to come forward and speak out against an agency that clearly held their rights in contempt. We thank Representative Krummel for his willingness to stand up to a bureaucracy that violated the law and the rights of the most investigated and responsible people in the state, and we thank Dawn Phillips for her tireless efforts on behalf of foster parents in Oregon.