Explore The NRA Universe Of Websites

Court Sides with Home Invaders and Landlords Who Disarm Vulnerable Residents in Maine Case

Friday, May 13, 2016

Court Sides with Home Invaders and Landlords Who Disarm Vulnerable Residents in Maine Case

Burglars targeting seniors and landlords who run publicly-subsidized apartments where such criminals strike with abandon won a legal victory in Maine this week, as Knox County Justice William Stokes dismissed a suit by a man threatened with eviction for exercising his Second Amendment rights.

We have been reporting since last year on the case of Harvey Lembo, a 67-year-old former police officer and lobsterman who obtained a handgun for self-protection after his subsidized apartment in Epping, Maine was burglarized multiple times by thieves looking for pain medicine. And it’s a fortunate thing he did. The very night after he obtained the gun, the wheelchair-bound senior was forced to use it to defend his life against yet another home invader, this one with a felony record for a violent crime.

Although police did not charge Lembo, who shot the intruder in his shoulder while in fear for his life, his landlord, Stanford Management Company, informed him less than 24 hours after the incident that under the terms of his lease, he would have to relinquish gun ownership or face eviction.

Lembo sued Stanford Management, citing the Maine Civil Rights Act, which is supposed to protect the state’s residents from infringements of their constitutional liberties. Rockland Park, the apartment complex where Lembo lives, advertises on its website that “[s]ome apartment homes are subsidized and Section 8 welcome.” Thus, the landlord’s business model depends at least in part on public funds. Lembo himself receives housing subsidies, and he cannot readily relocate because the number of apartment developments that accept such vouchers is limited. That makes him and other residents of places like Rockland Park more susceptible to negligent or heavy-handed treatment.

Lembo’s suit sought damages and a permanent injunction against the landlord for threatening to evict him for lawfully possessing a firearm in his residence. He cited the constitutional rights to arms of both the U.S. and Maine Constitutions as protecting his right to do so. While constitutional rights can only be directly enforced against government action, Maine’s Civil Rights Act also applies to violations of legally protected rights occurring by private actors through “physical force or violence against a person, damage or destruction of property or trespass on property,” or by threats of the same. Lembo noted in his complaint that a forcible eviction premised on a constitutional violation would necessarily involve force and trespass, and his landlord’s threat to evict him on illegal grounds was necessarily a threat of such force and trespass.

Justice Stokes, who admitted in a footnote to his opinion that he was formerly a member of Michael Bloomberg’s gun control organization Mayors Against Illegal Guns, disagreed. Rather, he characterized the threat of eviction as simply an expression “of an intention to pursue available legal remedies.” The court adjudicating the eviction case would then have to decide the rights of the parties and supervise a resolution of their conflict.

The upshot of the ruling is that Maine landlords can threaten to evict vulnerable tenants like Mr. Lembo for any reason, and provided they threaten to go through a judge, the tenant is helpless to raise a civil rights claim until after the individual or his property have already been illegally thrown out the door.

That may be a win for landlords that won’t protect their residents but still seek to disarm them, but it’s an even bigger win for predatory criminals who can plan who to victimize simply by matching up gun-free apartment complexes with elderly or other vulnerable tenants.

It’s a good thing that in the moment of crisis, Mr. Lembo’s gun came through for him. It’s a sad thing that the same cannot be said of a legal system that too often fails to protect society’s most susceptible members against its most opportunistic and plundering ones.

The good news is that, going forward, residents of subsidized housing in Mr. Lembo’s situation will have the law on their side, thanks to the enactment this session of NRA-backed LD 1572, an Act To Ensure Nondiscrimination against Gun Owners in Public Housing. Sponsored by Senator Andre Cushing (R-Penobscot), the law will prevent public housing authorities from adding provisions in rental agreements to ban the lawful ownership, use, possession, bearing or transportation of firearms by tenants. The legislature, at least, could recognize an unjust situation when they saw it, and they chose to stand with those who wish to exercise their rights and protect themselves. It’s a shame Mr. Lembo had to endure what he did, but his cautionary tale will ensure his experience won’t be repeated in the Pine Tree State.

TRENDING NOW
Biden’s Anti-gun Lies are Too Much Even for Legacy Press Fact Checkers

News  

Monday, April 19, 2021

Biden’s Anti-gun Lies are Too Much Even for Legacy Press Fact Checkers

With President Joe Biden securely in office and the 2024 presidential election 43 months away, the mainstream press has determined it an acceptable time to expose the frequent fibber’s most flagrant falsehoods.

Hunter Biden Memoir Among Mounting Evidence of Federal Gun Law Violations

News  

Monday, April 19, 2021

Hunter Biden Memoir Among Mounting Evidence of Federal Gun Law Violations

As President Joe Biden and his Department of Justice concoct new firearm restrictions for ordinary law-abiding Americans, 

Guide To The Interstate Transportation Of Firearms

Gun Laws  

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Guide To The Interstate Transportation Of Firearms

CAUTION: Federal and state firearms laws are subject to frequent change. This summary is not to be considered as legal advice or a restatement of law.

In New Executive Gun Control Push, Biden Seems to Throw Obama, and Himself, Under the Bus

News  

Monday, April 12, 2021

In New Executive Gun Control Push, Biden Seems to Throw Obama, and Himself, Under the Bus

At Biden's recent Rose Garden ceremony, where he announced his latest assault on the Second Amendment, he lied a number of times, and garbled the name of the federal agency tasked with enforcing federal gun ...

New Jersey: Gov. Murphy Announces Drastic Gun Control Agenda

Thursday, April 15, 2021

New Jersey: Gov. Murphy Announces Drastic Gun Control Agenda

Thursday morning, Gov. Phil Murphy held a press conference to unveil yet another gun control package in the Garden State.  

Texas House Approves NRA-Backed Permitless Carry Bill

Friday, April 16, 2021

Texas House Approves NRA-Backed Permitless Carry Bill

Early Thursday evening, on a 84-56 vote, the Texas House gave initial approval to House Bill 1927, by Rep. Matt Schaefer (R-Tyler), an NRA-backed permitless carry proposal that would allow law-abiding citizens to carry a handgun without a state-issued License To ...

NRA Opposes David Chipman for ATF Director

News  

Friday, April 9, 2021

NRA Opposes David Chipman for ATF Director

During a press conference on Thursday, President Biden announced that he would once again be targeting law-abiding gun owners by ordering ATF to develop two new restrictive regulations. Aiming to accessorize the Department of Justice’s ...

More Pro-Second Amendment Bills Moving in the Texas Senate and House

Saturday, April 17, 2021

More Pro-Second Amendment Bills Moving in the Texas Senate and House

While reports about the House passing House Bill 1927, NRA-backed permitless carry legislation, dominated the news this week, there are a number of other significant pro-Second Amendment measures that are progressing through the legislative process as well.

A Radical Idea: It’s Not the Gun, it’s the Criminal

News  

Monday, April 12, 2021

A Radical Idea: It’s Not the Gun, it’s the Criminal

Rahm Emanuel, recently the mayor of Chicago and who has previously served as a member of the Clinton Administration and as President Obama’s White House chief of staff, proposed a few curious gun control ideas ...

Guide To The Interstate Transportation Of Firearms

Gun Laws  

Monday, June 30, 2014

Guide To The Interstate Transportation Of Firearms

CAUTION: Federal and state firearms laws are subject to frequent change. This summary is not to be considered as legal advice or a restatement of law.

MORE TRENDING +
LESS TRENDING -

More Like This From Around The NRA

NRA ILA

Established in 1975, the Institute for Legislative Action (ILA) is the "lobbying" arm of the National Rifle Association of America. ILA is responsible for preserving the right of all law-abiding individuals in the legislative, political, and legal arenas, to purchase, possess and use firearms for legitimate purposes as guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.