New Jersey police and Dept. of Children and Families officials raided the home of a firearms instructor and demanded to see his guns after he posted a Facebook photo of his 11-year-old son holding a rifle.
“Someone called family services about the photo,” said Evan Nappen, an attorney representing Shawn Moore. “It led to an incredible, heavy-handed raid on his house. They wanted to see his gun safe, his guns and search his house. They even threatened to take his kids.”
Moore was not arrested or charged.
A Dept. of Children and Families spokesperson told me they could not confirm or deny an investigation or raid had taken place due to government regulations.
“The department has a child abuse hotline for the state of New Jersey and anybody can make a call to that hotline,” spokesperson Kristen Brown said. “We are required to follow up on every single allegation that comes into the central registry.”
Moore, of Carneys Point, is a certified firearms instructor for the National Rifle Association, an NRA range safety officer and a New Jersey hunter education instructor.
He recently posted a photograph of his son wearing camouflage and holding his new .22 rifle. The child has a New Jersey hunting license and recently passed the state’s hunter safety course.
“If you look at the picture, his finger isn’t even on the trigger – which is proper,” Nappen told me. “If half of Hollywood could follow that rule we’d be thankful.”
Brown said their role is not to go out and search Facebook for photos of children holding weapons.
“In general our role is to investigate allegations of child abuse and neglect,” she said.
The family’s trouble started Saturday night when Moore received an urgent text message from his wife. The Carneys Point Police Dept. and the New Jersey Dept. of Children and Families had raided their home.
Moore immediately called Nappen and rushed home to find officers demanding to check his guns and his gun safe.
Instead, he handed his cell phone to one of the officers – so they could speak with Nappen.
“If you have a warrant, you’re coming in,” Nappen told the officers. “If you don’t, then you’re not. That’s what privacy is all about.”
With his attorney on speaker phone, Moore instructed the officers to leave his home.
“I was told I was being unreasonable and that I was acting suspicious because I wouldn’t open my safe,” Moore wrote on the Delaware Open Carry website. “They told me they were going to get a search warrant. I told them to go ahead.”
Nappen told Fox News the police wanted to inventory his firearms.
“”We said no way, it’s not happening,” he said. “This is a guy who is completely credentialed and his son is also credentialed.”
The attorney said police eventually left and never returned.
“He has a Fourth Amendment right and he’s not going to give up his Fourth Amendment right or his Second Amendment right,” he said. “They didn’t have a warrant – so see you later.”
Brown said that it’s “prudent and wise to protect children.”
“In many cases we may follow up on something and we don’t find any problems and the case is closed,” she said.
But the person who reported the false allegations of abuse cannot be held liable, she noted.
“You can’t be prosecuted for making an allegation of child abuse –even if it’s false,” she said.
Nappen said what happened to the Moore family should serve as a warning to gun owners across the nation.
“To make someone go through this because he posted a picture of his son with a .22 rifle on his Facebook page is pretty outrageous,” he said. “Does that mean that anyone who posts a picture like that has to consent to a home inspection and a gun inspection? I don’t think so.”
Nappen said they are considering taking legal action against the state for the late night raid.
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