A renter in St. Louis Park, Minn., claims that his landlord is giving him the boot over his lawful right to bear arms. Sean Blakley legally owns and stores several firearms in the room that he rents at a house with other tenants, but he keeps one of them loaded "for my protection," he told KMSP-TV in Minneapolis. That's what his landlord takes issue with, saying that he doesn't want loaded weapons on the property.
Now the landlord is evicting him, Blakley said. The landlord, who was not identified and declined to speak on camera, also legally owns guns. Both men are hunters. "I have a legal right to own these guns," Blakley told KMSP. "I don't have any criminal record. They are legally mine. I keep them all in my room. They are in cases -- locked, unloaded -- except for one which is for my protection."
Blakley recorded a conversation between himself and his landlord on his cell phone and posted it to YouTube. In the video, Blakley tells the landlord that another tenant also owns guns on the premises and asks why that's allowed. The landlord responds that the reason is "a personal thing."
The laws surrounding this type of situation are murky. The landlord told KMSP that he's not evicting Blakley, he's just opting not to renew Blakley's lease. And according to real estate attorneys, landlords don't need to cite specific reasons for denying a lease renewal. But if a landlord is trying to force a tenant to get rid of their legally owned and safely stored guns, that could be an issue.
"In order to enforce that ban, the owner of the premises has to post on the premises," said real estate attorney Mike Kallas. "We've all seen the signs that say, 'So-and-so bans guns on these premises.'" Minnesota has a law on the books limiting guns on some private property, but it states: "Landlords may not restrict the lawful carry of firearms by tenants or their guests."
"If we had the right for landlords to say, 'You can't have arms in your home or residence,' that would defeat the right to bear arms," Kallas added. The landlord said that he worries that Blakley is putting other tenants in the house at risk by keeping a loaded weapon on the property. He's asking that all weapons remain unloaded. But for now, Blakley said he isn't going anywhere. "I firmly believe in my rights," Blakley said.
There's also one little matter that complicates this whole issue between Blakley and his landlord, and may lend credence to the landlord's decision not to renew Blakley's lease: Blakley is behind on rent.
Well, here's a reason gun owners should at the very least be cautious about storing firearms at home. After New York newspaper The Journal News published an online map pin-pointing the addresses of all gun permit owners in Westchester County, one of those homes was targeted for a burglary. What was the burglar after? The homeowner's firearms, police say. And if you want to learn more about gun safety at home, we have some tips on how to properly store firearms.