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Harvard student asked to move out over legal guns that make roommates ‘uncomfortable’

A handgun and a gun safe. (Tech. Sgt. Thomas Dow/U.S. Air Force)
December 10, 2018

A 24-year-old graduate student at Harvard University is facing possible eviction from her Massachusetts apartment because she has firearms that are completely compliant with the law, but they concern her roommates.

Leyla Pirnie’s roommates searched her room in November while she was away, looking for guns they said they knew would be there since she has a MAGA hat and is from Alabama, according to The Washington Free Beacon.

One roommate emailed Dave Lewis, the landlord, asking him to confirm that Pirnie was following applicable firearms laws.

Lewis contacted Captain James Donovan of the Somerville Police Department to examine Pirnie’s firearms and confirm they complied with Massachusetts law, WND reported. Officers confirmed the firearms did indeed comply with the law.

The roommate said in the email, “We discussed with Leyla that all 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.”

Lewis said, “Since it’s clear that Leyla wants to keep her firearms, it would be best for all parties if she finds another place to live.”

Pirnie said that her privacy was violated, and now her rights have been violated, too.

“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. 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,” Pirnie said on Dec. 1.

Pirnie said, “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. 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.”

When Pirnie’s roommates asked her directly about the guns, she told them she owned them legally and had been trained in firearm safety.

The roommates explained that they weren’t worried about how she handled guns, more so they were concerned what could happen in the event of a break-in or that the guns “might go off on their own.”

Pirnie, who has lived in the apartment since September, said her landlord’s concerns and his demand for her to move are not appropriate.

“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. My landlord’s e-mail, though carefully crafted, showed tremendous prejudice against my right to legally have firearms,” Pirnie said.

Pirnie said while she was an undergrad, she was involved in an abusive relationship, which is why she owns firearms.

“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? I have a real and legitimate reason as to why I want to protect myself,” she said.

Pirnie and her father have denied requests for her to vacate the apartment.

Lewis said his demand for Pirnie to move “was based strictly on practical and not ideological (sic) terms.” He added that if Pirnie stayed and the roommates moted instead, she would be expected to pay their portion of the rent.

In an email that Lewis sent to Mr. Pirnie, he said, “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. Obviously, it would be much easier for the others to stay and just fill one room (and I’m confident—were this to happen—that the remaining housemates will release Leyla from any further responsibility under the lease) and that’s why I proposed what I did.”

Pirnie said, “I’m still very much so being threatened out of my apartment. Either I leave and incur moving expenses, or my roommates move and I incur their rent expenses… Doesn’t seem right. Not only is this a blatant violation of my privacy, but it’s also a violation of my rights.”