By Tracey March
Every day in our country about 289 people are shot, some deliberately and some by accident. A gun in the home is 22 times more likely to be used to kill or injure someone in a domestic murder, suicide, or accident than to be used in self-defense. (From the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence.)
Given these troubling statistics, many landlords and property managers have been wondering if their property rights allow them to limit gun ownership in their rental properties without violating the Second Amendment right to bear arms. The answer is yes. The Second Amendment is a limit on government power, not a limit on private citizens. And if a private citizen landlord wants to ban guns in his or her rental properties, there is no Second Amendment violation.
Gun owners who are told they can no longer keep their guns may claim they are being discriminated against, but they will find no support in fair housing laws as gun owners are not considered a protected class under those rules.
However, if you do want to limit or prohibit firearms on your rental property, implementing and enforcing those policies could be difficult. Landlord tenant law requires you to wait until the end of each tenant’s lease and include the limit or ban in the new lease or in a set of House Rules that your tenants sign when they renew.
And what if you suspect your tenants are keeping a firearm in a rental unit, in violation of your established policy? You might have a hard time verifying that a gun is being stored on the premises because state privacy laws may prevent you from doing an inspection. However, if you do have proof of a violation, and your tenants have agreed in the lease to abide by your policy, you can initiate an eviction.
Finally, a limited number of states, like Minnesota, have enacted laws that prohibit landlords from limiting tenants from owning firearms, so if you are thinking about limiting or banning firearms on your rental property, make sure that doing so won’t violate your state’s laws.
As always, the information provided here is just that–it is for informational purposes only and is not legal advice. If you have any particular questions or issues, please consult an attorney.