(Editor’s note: This article was a submission from freelance writer Mike Doran.)
A 67-year old man is fighting his rental property owner and management company for the right to keep a firearm he shot an intruder with earlier this year, according to The Bangor Daily News.
Harvey Lembo, a resident of Park Place Associates of Rockland, Maine received a letter from the property management stating he could not have a gun on the premises and that keeping the gun would result in his eviction.
Lembo, a former policeman who is bound to a wheelchair, had only purchased the 7 mm Russian-made revolver about 12 hours before the break-in, but he had been robbed four times previously in his six years of residency at Park Place, with the last break-in occurring a month before when medications and $1,000 in cash were stolen.
Around midnight on Aug. 31 Lembo awoke when he heard someone in his apartment. When he saw a shadow pass by going into his living room, he pulled out the gun from under his pillow and then confronted the intruder, who was searching through his medications.
When asked what he was doing, the intruder had the gall to reply, “Robbing you, just like everyone else.”
“I told him to sit down while I called police or I would blow his brains out,” Lembo said.
The intruder, later identified as Christopher Wildhaber, complied and sat on a coffee table while Lembo called 911, but then Wildhaber jumped up and Lembo said he fired a shot. The intruder fled but left a pool of blood behind. The Rockland police later caught Wildhaber in nearby woods.
Wildhaber has quite the rap sheet. In 2011, he was convicted of domestic violence assault and was sentenced to 90 days in jail. In February 2015, he was convicted of felony domestic violence assault and sentenced to three years. Wildhaber was then ordered to serve three years of probation upon his release.
In his lawsuit, Lembo seeks to block the property owner and management company from evicting him. It also demands the gun ban overturned and seeks monetary damages for the actions against Lembo.
Lembo has the support of numerous gun rights advocacy groups, including the NRA, says his attorney Patrick Strawbridge.
“Threatening to evict Mr. Lembo for defending himself clearly violates his constitutional rights,” said NRA Maine State Liaison John Hohenwarter. “Self-defense is a fundamental, God-given right that belongs to every law-abiding American — no matter their tax bracket, zip code or street address.”
“Furthermore, Article 1 Section 16 of the Maine Constitution echoes this sentiment by stating: ‘Every citizen has a right to keep and bear arms and this right shall never be questioned.,’” added Hohenwarter.
But the management group apparently disagrees. Russ Gagne, director of finance, told the Bangor Daily News that firearm prohibition is part of the house rules for living in the apartments, and tenants must sign a lease agreeing to those rules. He also said most housing developments have similar prohibitions.
“This is to ensure the safety of all tenants,” Gagne said. He said also that the management company was conducting its own investigation on the burglary and would come up with solutions to ensure the safety of the residents.
Do you think the property rights of the owners trump a resident’s Second Amendment right to protect himself?