Judge rules against apartment lease's ban on firearms

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A panel of judges on the Tennessee Appeals Court has ruled that an apartment lease provision banning the tenant from having a firearm is unconstitutional and unenforceable.

The decision in the case involving Columbia resident Kinsley Braden and the Columbia Housing & Redevelopment Corp. was documented by the Second Amendment Foundation.

The three-judge panel, in an opinion written by Judge Frank. G. Clement Jr., said, “(I)n light of the Supreme Court’s most recent decision in Bruen and keeping in mind the presumptively unconstitutional status of Columbia Housing’s policy based on the Supreme Court’s decision in Heller, we conclude that a total ban on the ability of law-abiding residents—like Mr. Braden—to possess a handgun within their public housing unit for the purpose of self-defense is unconstitutional under the Second Amendment.”

The noted that the housing organization, in fact, “is a government entity acting as a landlord of property it owns.”

Because it is a government operation, the housing organization must abide by the Constitution, and if it wants a firearm ban, must “establish that its leasehold restrictions on firearms is ‘consistent with the Nation’s historical tradition of firearm regulation.'”

The case was sent back to a lower court for further proceedings.

Clement was joined by Judges Andy D. Bennett and W. Neal McBrayer in the unanimous ruling.

“We’re delighted with the appeals court ruling,” said SAF founder Alan M. Gottlieb. “This underscores the far-reaching effect of the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark Bruen opinion. Mr. Braden was evicted from the public housing complex because he had a firearm. The court properly held that such a prohibition is a non-starter. Rulings like this make it clear the Second Amendment means what it says.”

The court decision noted not only is the public housing “government-owned,” “the leased premises at issue is the tenant’s private home, which is not the kind of ‘sensitive place’ where the government may categorically ban firearm possession.”

Further, it noted, complete bans on handguns in homes for self-defense “are ‘historically unprecedented.'”

The lower court had found that Braden waived his rights to posses a firearm by agreeing to the lease.

However, that ruling didn’t take notice of the fact that the owner was, in fact, a government operation that is bound by the Second Amendment, a point upon which the appeals ruling was based.

“As a threshold matter, we recognize that Columbia Housing is a government entity acting as the landlord of the Creekside Acre residences. … For this reason, the actions of Columbia Housing and the policies of Creekside Acres must conform to the Constitution.”

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