A Missouri couple alleges in a federal lawsuit that they're being denied the right to care for additional foster children because they are gun owners.
The Kansas City foster parents – James and Julie Attaway – already have one foster child and two biological children in their home, but say they want more, according to a report. Their lawsuit contends that state laws prohibit them from welcoming more foster children into their home if they possess or carry “loaded functional firearms.”
The Attaways say they fear losing their current foster child because of the laws.
"It leaves them with no actual ability to exercise their Second Amendment rights," David Sigale, an Illinois lawyer who represents the couple, told the Associated Press. Similar lawsuits have been filed in Michigan and Illinois, he said.
In Missouri, foster parents are legally allowed to own guns but are subject to strict regulations by the state’s Department of Social Services. For instance, any firearms must be stored separately from ammunition and kept in locked areas inaccessible to children. Firearms must also be kept in a locked area in any vehicle transporting a foster child.
James Attaway has a concealed carry permit, and the couple is legally allowed to own guns under state law. They are seeking an injunction preventing the state agency from enforcing the regulations, the Kansas City Star reported. They also want the regulations declared null and void, the report said.
Now, the gun rights group Second Amendment Foundation, of which the Attaways are members, has reportedly joined the couple in their lawsuit.
"Members of SAF who are foster parents in Missouri would possess and carry loaded and functional concealed handguns in public for self-defense, but refrain from doing so because they fear their foster children being taken away from them by the state, and/or being prohibited from being foster parents in the future," the lawsuit states.
But Lori Ross, a foster parent and CEO of the nonprofit FosterAdopt Connect, argued that being a foster parent is a privilege and not a right.
“There are lots of things that are required of foster parents that people might disagree with,” Ross told the Star. “For example, many people believe in the idea of physical discipline, but they have to forgo using it in order to be foster parents.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.