Did this photograph spark a police action that tried to enter a New Jersey home without a warrant? That's the story being told on a website dedicated to "Open Carry" in the state of Delaware. The title of the story, "The fight has officially been brought to my front door."
Image: Delaware Open Carry
The young man in the photo is the 11-yr-old son of Shawn Moore. The gun is a .22 rifle, a copy of the AR-15, but a 22 caliber. The photo was posted on Facebook by a proud father. That Facebook posting apparently triggered an anonymous call to New Jersey's Department of Youth and Family Services (DYFS). On Friday night, March 15th, two representatives from the state's social services office (along with four local police officers) came to the Moore home and demanded to see the family's firearms.
According to Moore's lawyer, Evan Nappen (an attorney with considerable expertise in NJ's very strict gun laws), the situation was "outrageous."
Here's what Moore alleges on the Delaware open carry forum:
- NJ's Department of Youth and Family Services (DYFS) came to his home, accompanied by police officers. They claimed to be responding to a call about a photo of a young boy holding a firearm. (photo above)
- Without a search warrant, DYFS demanded entry into Moore's home and access to all of his firearms. Moore was not initially there, but his wife called him.
- With his lawyer listening to the exchange on the phone with police and DFYS, Moore denied entry to his home and access to his safe where he stores his guns.
- When Moore requested the name of the DFYS representative, she refused to give it to him.
- After threatening to "take my kids," the police and Family Services worker left -- "empty handed and seeing nothing."
In an exclusive interview with TheBlaze, Mr. Nappen -- the attorney who was listening to the entire incident via Moore's speaker phone -- added more details:
- The DYFS worker repeatedly demanded access to the house and for Moore to open his safe where the firearms were stored. She said that the guns should be catalogued and checked to make certain they were "properly registered." (NJ does not require registration, it is voluntary.)
- The four police officers acted professionally, they were there at the request of DYFS.
- The worker refused to identify herself. Mr. Moore demanded that she giver her name. She refused and ran away.
- As of Tuesday morning, Mr. Nappen believes that DYFS is still pushing for an inspection, "which is not happening."
Mr. Nappen also shared few very important facts about this case. For instance, Shawn Moore holds three very significant firearms designations:
- NRA Certified Firearms Instructor - One of the toughest certifications to attain, requiring skills with the weapons as well as teaching.
- NRA Certified Range Safety Instructor
- NJ State Certified Firearms Hunting Instructor
Shawn's son is also someone who has been certified by the state of New Jersey. In order for a person under the age of 18 to go hunting in New Jersey, they must be accompanied by a parent or adult supervisor, and they must also pass a state firearms hunter safety test. The young Mr. Moore passed the test and his father was NOT his instructor.
Editor's note -- the author of this post, Mike Opelka talked about the story during Tuesday's live BlazeCast:
TheBlaze first learned about this story via a tip from reader who spotted Shawn Moore's post on a pro-Second Amendment website. "ShawnMoore81" is a member of Delaware Open Carry, an online community dedicated to supporting open-carry in the state of Delaware. His account of the above incident at his home might give any law-abiding gun owner chills.
We present the un-edited post in Mr. Moore's own words:
Last night I was out with a buddy of mine. I got a text from my wife that the cops and dyfs are at the house and they wanna check out my guns and needed me to open my safe.
I'm instantly on my way. I get in contact with evan Nappen on the way. I explain the situation. I walk in my house and hand the phone to the first cop I see. Then direct all of em outside. Dyfs got a call because of a pic on my son holding a gun. They wanted to look around and check all my guns out, make sure they were all registered. Obviously that didn't go well because I refused. I had Nappen on speaker phone the entire time so they had to deal with both of us. They kept trying to pressure me to open my safe. They had no warrant, no charges, nothing. I didn't budge. I was told I was being "unreasonable" and that I was acting suspicious because I wouldn't open my safe. Told me they were gonna get a search warrant. Told em go ahead. Nappen (my lawyer) asked me for the dyfs workers name. she wouldnt give it. i asked for credentials and she wouldnt show em. i tried to take a pic of her and she turned around real fast and walked away. After a while of them threatening to take my kids, get warrants and intimidation they left. Empty handed and seeing nothing.
People it can happen that fast. Most people wouldn't have stood up to them like I did.
A picture of the police taken by Shawn Moore and posted on Deloc.org.
Mr. Moore also took photographs of the incident. One shows four police officers (wearing bullet-proof vests) from the Carneys Point, NJ police department were on the scene Saturday night. TheBlaze contacted Chief Robert DiGregorio of the Carneys Point PD to get the department's account of what happened. The chief did not answer or calls or return our messages.
As you might imagine, the very tight community of Second Amendment supporters has posted this story on Facebook pages and various pro-gun websites. TheBlaze reached out to Mr. Moore in hopes of confirming all of the details he shared as well as asking why he thinks DYFS was called, and where the story stands now.
Moore has not spoken with us, but as mentioned we talked with his attorney and he has answered a few of our questions via e-mail. Late Monday night he wrote to TheBlaze saying, "I have dyfs still insisting to see the inside of my safe."
Does the DYFS have a right to look inside Moore's safe? Can they demand that he show his firearms to them? The agency and local law enforcement may be looking to see if Moore violated New Jersey's Code of Criminal Justice, specifically, 2C:58-6.1 Possession of firearms by minors; exceptions.
b.No person under the age of 18 years shall possess, carry, fire or use a firearm except as provided under paragraphs (1), (2), (3) and (4) of this subsection; and, unless authorized in connection with the performance of official duties under the provisions of N.J.S.2C:39-6, no person under the age of 21 years shall possess, carry, fire or use a handgunexcept under the following circumstances:
(1)In the actual presence or under the direct supervision of his father, mother or guardian, or some other person who holds a permit to carry a handgun or a firearms purchaser identification card, as the case may be; or
(2)For the purpose of military drill under the auspices of a legally recognized military organization and under competent supervision; or
(3)For the purpose of competition or target practice in and upon a firing range approved by the governing body of the municipality in which the range is located or the National Rifle Association and which is under competent supervision at the time of such supervision or target practice or instruction and training at any location; or
(4)For the purpose of hunting during the regularly designated hunting season, provided that he possesses a valid hunting license and has successfully completed a hunter's safety course taught by a qualified instructor or conservation officer and possesses a certificate indicating the successful completion of such a course.
c. A person who violates this section shall be guilty of a crime of the fourth degree. For purposes of this section the fact that the act would not constitute a crime if committed by an adult shall not be deemed to prohibit or require waiver of family court jurisdiction pursuant to N.J.S.2C:4-11 or to preclude a finding of delinquency under the "New Jersey Code of Juvenile Justice," P.L.1982, c.77 (C.2A:4A-20 et seq.), P.L.1982, c.79 (C.2A:4A-60 et seq.), P.L.1982, c.80 (C.2A:4A-76 et seq.) and P.L.1982, c.81 (C.2A:4A-70 et seq.).
TheBlaze reached out to DYFS to confirm Moore's account of the incident. The local office that covered the Carneys Point, NJ, area where Shawn Moore and his family live, would not respond to any questions from us. In fact, after our call was transferred to a "supervisor" named Lynette we were directed to the Trenton offices. When we requested a correct spelling of Lynette's last name, she started to spell it and then suddenly stopped, saying, "I'm not comfortable giving you my name." When we asked for a phone number to the Trenton office, Lynette told us "Google it. Goodbye."
Calls to the Trenton office of DYFS (now known as "The Division of Child Protection and Permanency") have not yet been returned.
The boy's identity has been revealed and he's now speaking out. See what he has to say about the whole ordeal here.