Q: We own several large apartment complexes. After all that’s happened recently, we have decided that we do not want firearms on the property. Can we prohibit tenants from keeping them on the premises? Our manager says no, that people have a constitutional right to keep arms. –Dave and Bea M.
A: You do have a legal right to prohibit the keeping of firearms at your properties, just as you can prohibit tenants from keeping pets or parking oversize vehicles in your parking lots.
Your manager’s concerns are a bit off the mark: The United States Constitution (specifically, the Second Amendment, which concerns the people’s “right to bear arms”) is aimed at the government, not at individuals like you. So, while recent Supreme Court decisions have struck down attempts to restrict gun ownership, these cases have all involved states or localities whose laws have been found to infringe on the amendment. You are neither a state nor a locality. You are simply a business owner who has wide latitude in deciding how your run the business.
Should you instigate such a policy at your properties — more on how to do that below — you should be prepared for another argument you’re likely to hear. “That’s discrimination against gun owners!” will surely be lobbed your way. Again, nothing to fear, legally. That’s because gun owners are not a protected group under federal, state or local laws.