Landlord tells Harvard grad student from Alabama to move out over legally owned guns
After Leyla Pirnie’s roommates saw her MAGA hat one day and then discovered she was a gun owner, their Massachusetts landlord is now attempting to strong-arm Pirnie into moving out, saying her legally owned firearms make the roommates feel “extremely uncomfortable.”
As reported by the Washington Free Beacon, Pirnie, a Harvard graduate student from the Yellowhammer State, is being “threatened out of [her] apartment.”
“[S]ince it’s clear that Leyla wants to keep her firearms, it would be best for all parties if she finds another place to live,” Dave Lewis, president of Avid Management, said in an email to Pirnie and her roommates.
The admonition that she move out came after her roommates searched her room while she was not at home and found her guns, which prompted one of the roommates to email Lewis requesting he verify that Pirnie was in compliance with applicable firearms laws.
That roommate complained, “[A]ll of us are uncomfortable with having firearms in the house, and that their presence causes anxiety and deprives us of the quiet enjoyment of the premise to which we are entitled.”
Pirnie said she feels her roommates not only violated her privacy, but now they and her landlord are trying to violate her constitutional rights.
“A few weeks ago, I came back to my apartment from a weekend trip and was confronted by one of my roommates who asked if I had guns in the house,” Pirnie explained to the Free Beacon. “After being told far too many lies to count, my roommates finally admitted that they searched my closet, under my bed and all of my drawers in pursuit of finding my guns.”
While she was given various explanations for why her roommates entered and searched her room, Pirnie said she felt her political beliefs and where she is from played a significant role in the roommates’ actions.
“When I asked them why they were in my room to begin with, they each came up with completely contradicting stories (none of which made any sense), but one comment struck me in particular: ‘We saw that you had a MAGA hat and come on, you’re from Alabama… so we just kind of assumed that you had something,'” Pirnie shared. “I asked why they didn’t just call me and ask me before intruding. One of the girls responded that fear took over her body and she felt compelled to search my room until she found proof… I cannot make this up.”
Pirnie said she had been living in the apartment since September without incident, and she kept her political beliefs to herself before the incident. But she did have a Make America Great Again hat in her room that seemingly set her roommates off.
After that search of her room and the initial email from the roommate, Lewis contacted Captain James Donovan of the Somerville Police Department to inspect Pirnie’s guns and ensure they were in compliance with the law. Pirnie consented to allowing the police to inspect her firearms, after which Pirnie said she was told she is indeed in compliance.
Lewis even confirmed the police department’s conclusion that Pirnie was not breaking any laws in his email telling Pirnie to move out. The landlord admitted that law enforcement said the guns “are being safely and legally stored under lock and key.”
Yet, in that email, Lewis added, “That being said, it is clear that the rest of the housemates are extremely uncomfortable with the idea of Firearms being kept in the household.”
He then cited “this difference in philosophy and lifestyle” and “different beliefs and lifestyle choices” as reasons Pirnie needed to move out, adding that she was causing “stress” for her roommates.
Pirnie has taken the position that her landlord’s concern over her roommates being uncomfortable with legally owned firearms is misplaced and that his request that she move out is inappropriate. She also turned their complaint right around on them.
“What I find uncomfortable is coming home to find out that six people I barely know went into my bedroom without permission and went through every single one of my drawers, without any regard to my privacy whatsoever,” Pirnie emphasized. “My landlord’s e-mail, though carefully crafted, showed tremendous prejudice against my right to legally have firearms.”
Pirnie said her motivations for owning firearms have been ignored even though she shared them with her roommates. While an undergraduate student, Pirnie said she was in a physically abusive relationship and that harrowing experience is part of what drives her to be legally and safely armed.
“Nobody has bothered to question, ‘Well, why do you want to have protection? Could it be because you’ve experienced something where you need to protect yourself as you see fit?'” advised said. “I have a real and legitimate reason as to why I want to protect myself.”
She added that the roommates were not concerned with Pirnie’s handling of the guns but rather that somebody might break in and turn the guns on them or the guns “might go off on their own.”
After the landlord’s email, Pirnie and her father rejected Lewis’s request that she move out in the middle of studying for finals.
Then, Lewis claimed his request “was based strictly on practical and not idealogical [sic] terms.”
He then warned that the other roommates could simply move out and Pirnie would have to pay their rent.
“If the other roommates were to move out, Leyla would need to find roommates to share the place or foot the entire $6000+ monthly rent herself,” Lewis wrote.
The bottom line is that Pirnie feels she is being punished for being a lawful gun owner.
“I’m still very much so being threatened out of my apartment,” the Alabamian said. “Either I leave and incur moving expenses or my roommates move and I incur their rent expenses … Doesn’t seem right.”
She concluded, “Not only is this a blatant violation of my privacy, but it’s also a violation of my rights.”
Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn