A Facebook gun photo featuring a user’s 11-year-old son caused local child welfare authorities to visit the man’s home, he claims, sparking debate on the internet about Facebook privacy as well as whether such a post is indeed cause for a home visit from such agencies.
The Facebook gun photo story ran on a few blog-type sites, and the man to whom it reportedly happened — Shawn Moore — claims a smiling photo of his 11-year-old son toting a rifle was enough to cause the child welfare agents to visit him at home for the sole purpose of asking about his guns, and even demand he rid the home of arms or face loss of parental rights.
Opposing Views reports that Moore’s story was first posted to a gun forum, where it was picked up by the conservative blogosphere. The OV post begins:
The father of an 11-year-old took a picture of him holding a .22 rifle and posted it on Facebook. Shortly after, an anonymous call was made to New Jersey’s Department of Youth and Family Services, and they showed up at the father’s door demanding to see his firearms or else they would take the child.
Part of the difficulty in reporting upon stories involving agencies like DYFS is that confirmation is impossible to obtain through any means other than the parents or guardians involved, which doesn’t necessarily mean they are untrue or even embellished, merely that those involved may not have fully understood an action or things may have moved too quickly to accurately recount for later tellings.
(We also imagine that the moment you hear “your child removed” that it becomes slightly difficult to focus.)
Another part of the difficulty is that nothing in Moore’s account of the night of March 15 is implausible or even unlikely — agents from agencies like DYFS operate in a large part on discretion, and Moore says he did not allow access based on advice from a lawyer. Within parental custody circles on the internet, it is frequently and anecdotally reported that refusal to allow a home search can be actually considered grounds for removal.
To the questions behind the Facebook gun photo and its DYFS aftermath — Moore himself is, according to OV, “more than qualified to carry the firearms, as he holds three significant firearms designations, including an NRA Certified Firearms Instructor, NRA Certified Range Safety Instructor, and NJ State Certified Firearms Hunting Instructor.”
It’s easy to look at this situation and see GUNS because half of America is only seeing guns right now. But at the heart is a man most likely legally owning and possessing firearms, and whether his legal right to do a lawfully sound thing should be a matter for DYFS — as well as a bit of warning on parenting styles and Facebook in general.
Local child welfare agencies declined comment on the Facebook gun photo incident. As the issue is discussed and debated in the conservative blogging sphere, it should be noted refusal to consent to an on-the-spot home search is indeed grounds to have children placed in foster care for any home visit reason — such advice should be followed only when given by a lawyer, and not when dispensed from JimBob101 over on the Out Of My Cold Dead Hands messageboards.