Aleah Wallace says she was just trying to protect her family when she shot a teenager trying to break into her home last month. While the Fort Worth resident isn’t facing any criminal charges at the moment, she is facing the prospect of her family being evicted from her apartment because she had a gun on the premises.
According to FOX 4 in Dallas/Fort Worth, Wallace was told by management at the federally subsidized housing where she lives with her four children that she was being ousted because she had a gun on the property in violation of management’s ban on firearms. State Rep. Carrie Isaac has taken an interest in Wallace’s plight, asking Attorney General Ken Paxton’s office to weigh in along with the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs.
“It made me very angry,” Isaac said. “No one should be denied their Second Amendment right just because they live in public housing. It’s unconstitutional.”
Isaac represents the Wimberly-San Marcos area but saw FOX 4’s story on Wallace, the Fort Worth woman who in the early morning hours of Dec. 14 shot and killed someone trying to enter her apartment home. The person shot and killed was 14-year-old Devin Baker.
It was the second burglary attempt within about two hours. Police were at Wallace’s home after the first about 1:15 a.m.
“At that point, I had to think about my babies,” Wallace told FOX 4 in a Dec. 21 interview. “I didn’t know that he was 14 when he was on the other side of that window. All I knew was that somebody could come in here and hurt me or my kids.”
The single mother of four experienced multiple break-ins since October. The others happened when they were not home.
“I have been talking with my colleagues. I want Ms. Wallace to know she has several legislators in Texas pulling for her,” Isaac said. “And if we need to strengthen our Second Amendment laws, specifically regarding public housing, we will do that. I don’t believe we have to. I believe this is unconstitutional.”
I believe Isaac is right, and there’s plenty of case law around the country to back her up. In fact, we recently covered a new lawsuit challenging a similar ban on firearms in subsidized housing in Cortland, New York; just the latest effort by the Second Amendment Foundation to undo these restrictions wherever they’re found.
In their complaint, the plaintiffs argue the gun ban in Housing Authority properties is virtually identical to a prohibition put in place by the East St. Louis Housing Authority in Illinois; a prohibition that was successfully challenged by SAF and the Illinois State Rifle Association several years ago. In that case the Housing Authority ended up settling with the 2A groups and the resident who wanted to keep a firearm in their home for personal protection, acquiescing to a court order enjoining the Authority from denying “residents who are permitted under Illinois law to possess a firearm, to possess functional firearms that are legal in their jurisdiction for self-defense and defense of others in their residences, provided they are otherwise-qualified to do so.”
We’ve seen similar outcomes in states like Delaware as well. In fact, SAF executive director Adam Kraut has told Bearing Arms that no such gun ban has ever been successfully defended once a lawsuit’s been filed.
It shouldn’t take legislation to keep Wallace in her home, but that might be the quickest and easiest way to ensure her kids don’t suffer any more harm as a result of their mom defending them from a late night intruder. Thankfully Wallace also has the help of a local attorney whose become aware of her situation, so a lawsuit taking on her eviction notice isn’t out of the question either.
I’m of the opinion that even private tenants shouldn’t lose any of their constitutionally-protected rights just because they don’t own their home, but when the government is involved in the housing situation it becomes even more clear that a ban on all firearms is unconstitutional. Self-defense in the home is one of the foundational reasons why we have the Second Amendment in the first place, and the Supreme Court made it clear in Heller that governments can’t deny that right to residents.
The housing authority’s prohibition on firearms doesn’t just prevent tenants like Wallace from being able to keep a gun in their home. It utterly obliterates her right to both keep and bear arms. Wallace might be eligible for a concealed carry license in Texas (though she doesn’t need one as long as she can lawfully own a gun), but she has no way to carry a firearm if she can’t store it in her home when its not on her person out in public. This provision simply cannot stand. The question is whether it will be undone by the courts or the state legislature… and whether the fix will come in time to save Wallace and her kids from being kicked to the curb by the housing authority.