A federal judge ruled Thursday that the East St. Louis Housing Authority cannot deny, through rules and regulations, a tenant’s right to lawfully own a firearm.
“Among whatever else, the Second Amendment protects the rights of a law-abiding individual to possess functional firearms in his or her home for lawful purposes, most notably for self-defense and defense of family,” US District Court Judge Phil Gilbert said in the ruling.
A lawsuit filed in federal court was brought by Second Amendment Foundation and the Illinois State Rifle Association, who argued that firearm bans in government-subsidized housing is unconstitutional.
Their case focused on an East St. Louis woman, identified as N. Doe, who was beaten and sexually assaulted in her home. The assault ended only when one of her children pulled a gun on the attacker.
Doe alleged in the suit that the East St. Louis Housing Authority threatened to terminate her lease unless she could prove she did not have a gun at home. She said she was told the building was safe and that she didn’t need a gun after she protested to housing authorities, the lawsuit states.
The ban applies only to people of low-income who live in public housing and denies them the right to keep and bear arms because they can’t afford private housing, the lawsuit states.
The Belleville News-Democrat reported that Doe’s lease says “residents are not to display, use or possess or allow members of (Doe’s) household or guest 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 its termination, something Doe feared.
The East St. Louis Housing Authority did not respond to a request for comments.
ISRA Executive Director Richard Pearson said the ruling was a “common-sense” one that reaffirms Second Amendment rights.
“The right to defend your life and your property is a right for everyone regardless of where they live ...” Pearson said. “It is sad that this woman had to go to these lengths just to defend herself. The threats to her are real.”
Pearson also said while the ruling was good news, the case should have never had to go to a federal judge.
“Thankfully, she will be able to legally own a firearm and defend herself, but it is truly sad that it takes a federal judge to do what should have been done a long time ago,” he said.