Reporter Stephen Gutowski broke this story on Friday at the Free Beacon. Leyla Pirnie is a grad student at Harvard who lives in an apartment with several roommates. This is a situation where the need to share the cost of an apartment put a group of people who didn’t already know each other well together. So one weekend, while Pirnie was out of the apartment, her roommates decided to search her room without her permission to see if she had any guns. When they found she did have some, they held a meeting and then wrote a letter to the landlord, Dave Lewis of Avid Management, demanding his intervention. Lewis took the side of the other roommates and suggested it would be best if Pirnie moved out as she was preparing for finals. From the Free Beacon:
Pirnie said she feels her roommates violated her privacy and now they and her landlord are trying to violate her 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,” she told 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 several different explanations for why the roommates entered and searched her room, the 24-year-old 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,'” she said. “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.”
In the letter, the roommates sent to Lewis, the landlord, the roommates allege that Pirnie kept her guns unlocked and fully loaded. Lewis then contacted Captain James Donovan of the Somerville Police Department to ensure the storage of the guns was safe. He did, in fact, inspect her firearms and concluded they were being kept in a legal and safe manner. But that didn’t satisfy the roommates.
Pirnie also told the Free Beacon that she had personal reasons for wanting to have firearms in her room. Specifically, she had been in an abusive relationship as an undergraduate and felt she needed them for personal safety. Again, that doesn’t seem to matter to the roommates or to the landlord who suggested she should leave. The landlord has also indicated that if the other roommates move out of the apartment over their concerns about the guns, Pirnie will be responsible for paying their rent as well as her own. I’m not convinced that’s true but clearly the roommates are doing their best, with the landlord’s help. to pressure her to leave.
Pirnie was interviewed by Fox News Sunday. At the end of this interview, one of the Fox hosts asks if there is anything in Pirnie’s lease preventing her from having firearms on the premises. She says there is not, which suggests the lease is on her side in this instance.