Metro-East News

Lawsuit attacks constitutionality of gun ban in East St. Louis government housing

An East St. Louis woman says it is unconstitutional to ban guns in government-subsidized housing, according to a lawsuit filed Wednesday.

The woman, who was identified in the lawsuit only as N. Doe, out of fear that her abusive ex-husband could find her if she was identified, has a valid Illinois FOID license and has been trained in firearm safety, according to the lawsuit.

The lawsuit, which was filed through the Second Amendment Foundation and the Illinois State Rifle Association, argues a firearms ban in government-subsidized housing is unconstitutional. This ban, the lawsuit stated, only applies to low-income people who reside in public housing and deprives them the right to keep and bear arms because they can't afford private housing.

Mildred Motley, executive director with the East St. Louis Housing Authority, did not respond for comment Friday.

Doe alleges in the suit that Motley and the East St. Louis Housing Authority have threatened to terminate her lease unless she verifies she does not have a gun at home, according to the lawsuit. She protested, and said she was told the building was safe, and that she didn't need a gun.

Her lease says residents are "not to display, use or possess or allow members of (Doe's) household or guests to display, use, or possess any firearms, (operable or inoperable) ... anywhere in the unit or elsewhere on the property of the authority," according to the lawsuit.

Violating the lease can lead to the resident's lease being terminated.

Doe lives in public housing because of her and her family's health issues, according to the lawsuit. She wants a gun for self-defense, arguing she does not feel safe living in the Auburn Terrace housing complex, where shootings happen often.

In January 2017, Doe said she was beaten and raped in her home by a family acquiescence, and her kids came to her rescue by threatening to brandish a firearm they had in the residence at that time.

Doe's ex-husband was imprisoned after a murder conviction, and abused her after he was released on probation, according to the lawsuit.

His probation was revoked, but he has since been released again, and Doe has been told he is angry with her. The lawsuit says he choked her until she was unconscious and she bled internally from a beating he gave her. He threatened to kill her and her two teenagers if she ended the relationship.