Congressman Introduces Bill To Protect Renters' Gun Rights

(AP Photo/John Locher, File)

I value all rights, but two that are especially important to me are gun rights and property rights.

Unfortunately, sometimes those are in conflict. Should a private business be able to declare their property to be a gun-free zone, for example? I mean, I tend to say that they can, but they can’t get upset when I take my business somewhere else. Just as they can kick me out for saying the wrong thing, they can certainly decide they don’t want guns there either.

But what about when someone rents a home? This is their domicile, their refuge from the world. However, bad guys don’t always respect that sort of thing. It’s certainly reasonable that some renters may want to own a firearm in case that happens. Gun rights come in handy from time to time, you know.

The problem is that some property owners won’t let them.

Now, a congressman has filed a bill that would change some of that.

On Monday, U.S. Rep. Randy Feenstra, R-Iowa, introduced the Preserving Rights Of Tenants by Ensuring Compliance To (PROTECT) the Second Amendment Act. The proposal seeks to uphold the Second Amendment rights of tenants, specifically those living in residences that receive financial assistance from the federal government, by ensuring those landlords and rental property managers cannot lawfully restrict firearm ownership.

“No tenant should have to sacrifice their constitutional right to bear arms due to their income level or the type of housing they inhabit,” Rep. Feenstra said. “Unfortunately, in some cases, landlords are able to place restrictions on tenants that infringe on their fundamental right to self-protection. My PROTECT the Second Amendment Act will put a stop to this and uphold Second Amendment rights for all federally-assisted tenants. As a strong defender of the Second Amendment, I will continue supporting any efforts that get rid of unlawful or unnecessary obstacles to owning a firearm.”

The PROTECT the Second Amendment Act is supported by the National Rifle Association (NRA).

So this really only applies to people taking advantage of something like Section 8 housing, but that’s fine with me.

See, the problem is that people shouldn’t forego their rights just because they take advantage of a program. Whether that program should exist or not is a different matter entirely, but for now, it does, and should a landlord get to tell a tenant they don’t get to exercise their Second Amendment rights simply because they want to live in a given place? Absolutely not.

This is especially important because a number of these kinds of rental properties are in rough neighborhoods. They’re in the kind of places where someone may well need a gun to protect themselves from the unsavory types that live around them. That’s part of why gun rights matter.

Yes, it’s the landlord’s property, but there is a line that simply shouldn’t be crossed.

While a private business has every right to tell me to leave because they don’t like what I had to say, my landlord can’t kick me out because I voiced my support for a given policy. If they can’t do that, then how can they forbid me to exercise my Second Amendment rights?

There are likely to be some who wonder why someone would need federal assistance with rent if they can afford guns, but there are a lot of ways people can obtain firearms. A Hi-Point isn’t expensive, as guns go, and saving up for one of those is certainly doable. Buying firearms second-hand also happens regularly. Then there’s inheritance.

So people can get firearms lawfully at low costs. Plus, sometimes people hit a rough patch and need a little help.

Should they give up their gun rights simply because they need some assistance? I don’t think so.