NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Public housing agencies in Tennessee can no longer include provisions in their leases that bar tenants from having guns in their homes, a state appeals panel has ruled.
A three-judge panel of the Tennessee Court of Appeals made the unanimous decision Thursday, saying that the prohibitions in public housing violate the 2nd Amendment rights of its residents.
In the ruling, the judges cited a prominent U.S. Supreme Court decision from June that expanded gun rights, while striking down a New York law requiring people to demonstrate a particular need for carrying a gun in order to get a license to carry a gun in a concealed way in public.
The Tennessee decision could set up an appeal to the state Supreme Court, which has a majority appointed by Republican governors.
The case centers on a lawsuit by Kinsley Braden, who signed a lease agreement with Columbia Housing & Redevelopment Corporation in April 2018 that barred him from having a gun on the premises.
In November 2020, housing officials sought to evict Braden when they found out he had been keeping a handgun in his residence at the Creekside Acres low-income housing complex. Lower court judges ruled in favor of Columbia Housing in the initial case and an appeal, then Braden sought another review, the ruling states.
In the latest decision, Judge Frank Clement wrote that "a total ban on the ability of law-abiding residents — like Mr. Braden — to possess a handgun within their public housing unit for the purpose of self-defense is unconstitutional under the Second Amendment."
The ruling reasoned that public housing is not similar to other types of "sensitive" government buildings where guns can be banned, including statehouses, polling places and courthouses.
Clement also acknowledged that it is "largely unsettled whether public housing developments could constitutionally prohibit firearm possession under both the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution and nearly identical provisions of certain state constitutions." He wrote that states have come to different conclusions on whether such bans are allowed.