STATE AND LOCAL

Utah 18-year-old in foster care fights for right to own gun

James Edwards.

James Edwards.  (Fox 13)

An 18-year-old in foster care is fighting for his right to own a firearm after officials in Utah on Monday denied his 2nd Amendment right to bear arms.

James Edwards tells Fox 13 he wants to own a Ruger 22 for target practice before he enlists in the Marines.

He appeared in juvenile court Monday to argue a motion to allow him to own a gun. He proposed the court approve a guardian who would store the firearm in a safe.

"What's the point of defending the Constitution if you can't exercise the constitutional rights that you're defending?"

- James Edwards, 18

Edwards is still considered a juvenile and will be under the guardianship of the state until he's 21, unless he emancipates himself from the foster system.

The Utah Division of Child and Family Services has refused to allow Edwards to own a firearm. When asked in July, a judge said "Hell, no," the teen's attorney, Adam Hensley, told the Standard Examiner.

Edwards told Fox 13, "What's the point of defending the Constitution if you can't exercise the constitutional rights that you're defending?"

Edwards' attorney says the state is claiming authority over Edwards under Utah's "best interest of the child" standard. But Hensley argued that the standard does not supersede his clients' constitutional right to own a gun.

In a statement to Fox 13, DCFS director Brent Platt said his division "works closely with foster children and with foster families, and our number one priority is to ensure the safety of all involved. DCFS trusts the judicial process, and we intend to fully support the court's decision."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.