Currently, one of the hottest stories on the 'net concerns an 11-year-old boy, a Facebook photo, and the New Jersey Department of Children and Families. It takes place in the small township of Carney's Point, New Jersey, something of a suburb to Wilmington, Delaware (they are on opposite sides of the Delaware River).
Carney's Point has a long, though largely mundane, history. Founded in 1721 (as Upper Penns Neck Township), Carney's Point has been mostly a quiet sort of town, the kind that one might find in a Norman Rockwell painting or the like. In the early part of the 19th century, tomatoes were introduced to Salem County--where Carney's Point is located--and quickly became the dominant product of the region. But at the end of the century, the DuPonts entered the picture by purchasing land in neighboring Pennsville Township and establishing a plant for the production of gunpowder.
When the War to End All Wars--WWI--began, the demand for things like gunpowder exploded (pardon the pun) and as a result the Dupont facilities in the area were expanded, leading to a rapid increase in the area's population. Since those days, the population of Carney's Point has remained largely static, staying between 7,000 and 9,000 since the late 1950's.
Carney Point's most famous resident is, without a doubt, Bruce Willis. Though he was not born in Carney's Point, Willis' father was born in neighboring Penns Grove (once a part of Upper Penns Neck) and returned there when Bruce was a toddler. It was Bruce's home throughout his childhood and beyond.
But now there is a new son of Carney's Point making headlines, 11-year-old Josh Moore, whose picture is all over the media, clad in camo and holding a .22 rifle mocked up to look like an assault-type rifle. Apparently, Josh's father--Shawn Moore--put the picture up on his Facebook account, as the rifle was his son's birthday present; Josh is all smiles in the picture. Big deal, right? My 12-year-old son has a number of lethal-looking Airsoft guns in his possession. A .22 is certainly more serious, but it's hardly outrageous. And Josh's father happens to be "a certified firearms instructor for the National Rifle Association, an NRA range safety officer and a New Jersey hunter education instructor." Josh himself has a hunting license and has passed State gun safety courses.
Yet, some eager-beaver busybody apparently saw the picture and promptly reported Shawn to the State DCF, I guess for child endangerment or the like. And what did the DCF do? It immediately rounded up a posse of police officers and headed over to the Moore household to investigate. The DCF rep--backed by the police--first demanded access to the home to make sure there were no weapons accessible to children. Then, the DCF rep wanted access to Shawn's firearms safe to check the serial numbers of his guns. And in case anyone is wondering, no warrant was issued for any of this.
Moore refused to open his safe, at which point the DCF rep threatened to take his children away from him.
I'm not one to don the tinfoil--as should be clear from my bit on ammo orders by the Feds--but this story gives me pause. A citizen refuses to allow what would have amounted to an illegal search--again, no warrant--and in response he is told he could lose his children? Excuse me? So far, the DCF and the local police department has not responded to questions about this incident, so I guess there could be another side to this all, but frankly I can't imagine one that would validate the above threat. Luckily--I think--the DCF rep backed down and left with the police officers. If not, then what?
After all, what would Bruno do?