In 2003, District of Columbia resident and security guard Dick Heller signed on as one of several plaintiffs in a lawsuit that would later become known as District of Columbia v. Heller. At the time, Heller and others were simply trying to regain the Second Amendment rights of D.C. residents, and had no idea litigation would still be ongoing a dozen years later.
Last month the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit issued a ruling in the NRA-supported case now commonly referred to as Heller III, bringing further relief to the beleaguered law-abiding gun owners of the nation’s capital. The decision struck down four provisions of D.C. firearms law:
The court overturned a restriction limiting the registration of handguns to one per month.
The court struck down the three-year re-registration requirement, which imposed a never-ending burden on gun owners in the District.
The court invalidated the requirement that the registrant physically bring the firearm to police headquarters to register it.
The court struck down the requirement that applicants pass a test on D.C. gun laws, citing the lack of any public safety benefit.
A1F Daily recently caught up with Dick Heller to get his take on this latest court ruling, and on what happens next.
A1F Daily: What are your initial thoughts on the latest court victory in Heller III?
Dick Heller: My initial thoughts were, number one, the nomenclature, because it’s really the second case, Heller II, with an extra Roman numeral at the end because it went back to the appellate court for the second time. Basically, we won some and lost some. What was amazing to me was that they took one issue called registration and they stretched it out to 11 components. So here it was one issue with us, and it came back with 11 components of which we won four and lost six, if you put fingerprint and photograph, like a criminal, in the same category as one. That is, photograph and fingerprint us like a criminal, when we’ve done nothing wrong, and the criminals choose to not participate in this process.“What if George Washington and the troops with bleeding feet in the snow had just said, ‘Forget it’?”
A1F: Did you ever imagine that a dozen years after the initial lawsuit, you’d still be fighting this same battle?
DH: No, as a citizen I thought it was simply you win or lose, up or down, live or die, maintain the right or have it infringed upon forever. Never in my wildest dream did I expect to be sacrificing my life—giving up my boat and airplane—to continue fighting for the Second Amendment.
A1F: How hard has it been to stay the course and not just throw up your hands and say, “Forget it!”?
DH: You know, you have to put things into perspective. What if George Washington and the troops with bleeding feet in the snow had just said, “Forget it”? What if Abe Lincoln had just said, “Forget it”? We don’t have to stand in front of tanks, dodge bullets and jump into foxholes like our forefathers did. We settle all of our issues in an air-conditioned courtroom. It wasn’t an option to just say, “Forget it.” And when you look at what our forefathers went through, for some of us it’s now becoming a ministry. Because it wasn’t just a simple win or lose. They’re going to fight us hook and nail forever because gun grabbers, they’re communists. They want control. The only way they’re going to get it is to take over the medical system and grab our guns. And then crime still does not go down. If you look at what happened in Australia after their gun ban in 1997, when guns were banned and then were confiscated, “bought back,” or turned in, the firearm homicide rate fell a mere 10 percent. And then the increase in club and knife murders more than made up for that 10-percent gun homicide decline. Source: AIC—Australian Institute of Criminology.
A1F: What is the most important part about this latest victory, in your opinion?
“We certainly don’t want the current president to have the opportunity to make another appointment, which would skew the court 5-4 against us.”DH: I think the most important thing is they’ve skewed a simple registration process and split it into 10 or 11 parcels to pick apart. Lawyers can make the simple esoteric. We still have to be registered and fingerprinted, so the worst part is we will still be treated like criminals, but the criminals won’t be standing in line to get in. On the positive side, the big win is we do not have to re-register our firearm every three years, and accidentally become a paper criminal by forgetting. Number two would be the one-gun-a-month restriction is now gone.
A1F: How many times are you going to have to win—and the District have to lose—before officials there begin to recognize the Second Amendment rights of citizens?
DH: That’s hard to say. There are a number of cases in the courts now in the different circuits that eventually will all come together. Piecemeal, we lose a couple and then we win a couple. I think the concealed-carry cases are going to go up to the Supreme Court. Certainly, the sooner the better on that. We certainly don’t want the current president to have the opportunity to make another appointment, which would skew the court 5-4 against us.
A1F: What is it about D.C. politicians that inspires them to continue ignoring the courts on this important constitutional matter?
DH: Everything you can think of—arrogance, ego, male ego, being programmed like communists in the current education system. The left does not care for logic. But the only logical conclusion that you can come to—when you know that all these gun restrictions only restrict the good guys and embolden criminals—the only logical conclusion you can come to is that the city wants the criminals emboldened. There’s more crime. There’s more demand for more money for more judges, for more police and bigger bureaucracy. I mean, look at Florida. Florida is a perfect case. As of last year—with all the drug traffic they have, with shall-issue concealed carry—they have the lowest homicide rate they have had since they started keeping data almost 40 years ago. Hey D.C., what's not to like about Florida?
A1F: What happens next?
DH: The big question marks are when will concealed carry get decided, and what if it takes too long, and what if we have a successful freedom election next year. The end objective would be national concealed-carry reciprocity, or national concealed carry. We need a universal standard so that everyone is on a level playing field. I think the people who intentionally infringe on our rights through the government process belong in prison because they cause loss of lives. If D.C. is so proud of their gun restrictions, they have to also take credit for the high murder rate caused by those restrictions.
A1F: How can readers help?
D.H.: The HellerFoundation.org is currently focused on aggressively advocating in court for citizens who have inadvertently run afoul of, or been ensnared by, any of the nearly 5,000 federal government apparatchik laws. Some real examples are the selling of a commonly used commercial newspaper ink that the EPA declared to be now illegal; owning a standard rifle that has a two-round misfire like an automatic and thus being imprisoned by the BATF for owning a machine gun even though it isn’t; and finally, building a residence in the middle of a desert, then having the EPA press charges for violating Inland Waterway rules. Many innocent victims trip over these unknown regulations, get overzealously prosecuted by the central government, and can be then tagged as criminals and ultimately lose their Second Amendment rights. Whenever smoke starts pouring out of anyone’s ears from the government infringements of our Second Amendment, they need to go to HellerFoundation.org and hit the big red “Donate” button.