The gun control debate is one that can certainly get heated, but for a St. Louis Park man and his landlord, it's getting personal.
Sean Blakley told FOX 9 News he is being forced to find a new place to live because he is a legal gun owner, and that's opened up a discussion on how one man's Second Amendment rights stack up against the landlord's rights.
In trying to determine how the law applies, FOX 9 News stumped several real estate attorneys because it isn't crystal clear how the law applies to this specific situation.
Both the landlord and tenant in this situation are hunters, and they legally own guns for various reasons -- but their views seem to be miles apart when it comes to how those guns should be handled at home. Now, that is driving them apart.
"I have a legal right to own these guns," Blakley told FOX 9 News. "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."
The latter is the gun Blakley's landlord takes issue with. After 19 months of renting a room, Blakley and his landlord got into a debate over having a loaded gun in the home -- and Blakley secretly recorded that conversation on his cell phone.
Watch the video to hear the secret audio.
"There is nothing I've done other than politely refused to tell him how many guns I own and what type they are," Blakley insisted.
Blakley claims he's facing eviction over his guns, but his landlord told FOX 9 News he is simply electing not to renew their month-to-month lease agreement.
According to Real Estate Law Attorney Mike Kallas, landlords do not need a reason to opt against renewing a lease; however, he said forcing a tenant to get rid of guns could go too far.
"In order to enforce that ban, the owner of the premises has to post on the premises," Kallas explained. "We've all seen the signs that say, 'So-and-so bans guns on these premises.'"
In 2009, the state Legislature enacted a law limiting guns on some private property. It reads: "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 that arms in your home or residence,' that would defeat the right to bear arms," Kallas said.
Blakley's landlord spoke with FOX 9 News at length, first by phone and then in person. He declined to go on camera for the story because he doesn't want to become a target in the gun debate and he has a business to run; however, he did say he feels what Blakley wants is unsafe and he worries about the other two to three tenants who rent individual rooms at the house. Unless all the guns are unloaded and locked, he says Blakley is out.
Even so, Blakley told FOX 9 News he isn't packing his bags just yet "because of the principle of it."
"I firmly believe in my rights," he said.
There are some other factors at play in the dispute as well. Blakley is also currently behind on his rent.
WJBK-TV | Fox 2
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