The Second Amendment Under a Government Landlord: Is There a Right to Keep and Bear Legal Firearms in Public Housing?

61 Pages Posted: 8 Mar 2010 Last revised: 13 Mar 2011

Abstract

This article explores the constitutionality of banning legal firearms in government-owned public housing developments, an issue which is far from clear. Public housing is federally-subsidized low-income housing, owned and operated by local governmental entities known as Public Housing Authorities (“PHAs”). Many PHAs nationwide have banned all firearm possession on PHA-owned premises, based on their authority as landlords, property-owners, and in exercise of their inherent police power to control crime. Such bans potentially violate public housing tenants’ gun ownership rights, under either state law or the Second Amendment, as incorporated. This article evaluates public housing firearm bans in light of the right to armed self-defense articulated in District of Columbia v. Heller and the Second Amendment incorporation ruling in McDonald v. Chicago. The analysis considers the constitutionality of public housing firearm bans under federal housing law, state law, and the Fourteenth Amendment, with an eye toward future litigation.

Keywords: Public Housing, Guns, Second Amendment, Fourteenth Amendment, Scrutiny, Firearms, Government

Suggested Citation

Karpman, Jamie Wershbale, The Second Amendment Under a Government Landlord: Is There a Right to Keep and Bear Legal Firearms in Public Housing?. St. John's Law Review, Vol. 84, p. 995, 2010. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1555405

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