Harvey Lembo of Maine may describe himself as an “ordinary Joe,” but he is quickly becoming a flashpoint in the ongoing struggle to protect the Second Amendment.
Lembo, who is 67, retired, and confined to a wheelchair, was the victim of five separate burglaries. Due to his medical issues, Lembo’s apartment is a treasure trove of highly-coveted prescription drugs, making him a prime target for junkies who need their fix. After discussing his problem with a friend, Lembo ultimately decided to buy a 1941 Russian revolver. Hardly the first choice in home protection, the gun might have been more appropriately placed in a glass case than a holster. Lembo had an easy explanation for why he chose the unpractical weapon.
“I never planned on using it,” he admitted.
In a movie, what happened next would have drawn groans of disbelief. As is so often the case, though, truth proved stranger than fiction. An intruder broke into Lembo’s apartment the very next night, waking him out of a dead sleep. The would-be burglar, according to Lembo, was frantic and “out of his mind” on drugs. He told Lembo that he was there to steal his medication. Lembo held him at gunpoint and called the police.
“The 911 call center is 55 feet from this property,” said Lembo’s neighbor, Alan Sevall. “It didn’t help Harvey.”
Still on the phone with the dispatcher, Lembo was forced to act. As he later described it, the intruder “lurched” towards the kitchen. Afraid of losing control of the situation, Lembo fired a shot into the man’s shoulder. Wounded, the burglar fled the apartment. Police arrested him later, following a trail of blood to a hiding place just behind the apartment complex. The suspect turned out to be 45-year-old Christopher Wildhaber; he was subsequently charged with several offenses, including burglary and violating probation.
Unfortunately, that wasn’t the end of the story for Lembo. After getting wind of the incident, Park Place Associates – the company that owns the apartment complex, issued Lembo a letter informing him that guns were not allowed on the property.
“This is to ensure the safety of all tenants,” said the company’s director of finance.
The company demanded that Lembo surrender his gun or face eviction. Instead of voluntarily leaving himself defenseless, Lembo filed suit against Park Place in Maine Superior Court. He is seeking an injunction to protect his Second Amendment rights.
“Threatening to evict Mr. Lembo for defending himself clearly violates his constitutional rights,” said the NRA’s John Hohenwarter. “Self-defense is a fundamental, God-given right that belongs to every law-abiding American – no matter their tax bracket, zip code or street address. Furthermore, Article 1 Section 16. of the Maine Constitution echoes this sentiment by stating: ‘Every citizen has a right to keep and bear arms and this right shall never be questioned.'”
Unfortunately, in a country with prohibitions against “questioning” and “infringing” on gun rights, we are beset with lawyers, ninnies, and politicians who do nothing else. Meanwhile, decent men like Harvey Lembo are being railroaded and left defenseless when the need for protection has never been more obvious.