Dick Heller, Get Your Gun


Dick Heller showed up at the District of Columbia Courts with his gun in his hand. Sort of. Yesterday the victorious plaintiff in Heller vs. D.C. showed up downtown to register his gun but hesititated to bring it with him; cops told him to show up packing. So this morning at 9 a.m. Heller rendezvoused with advisors Dane von Breichenruchardt and Brad Jansen carrying his 1911 single-action Colt .22 revolver in a cherry-red vinyl case. "Concealed carry!" Heller said. "It doesn't look so bad, does it?"

The three men walked over to the courts to greet a small throng of libertarian activists and reporters from local news amd NRANews.com. "There were more cameras yesterday," mused von Breichenruchardt. "There were vans outside"—he waved his hand and pointed to the curb—"just more reporters, generally." There were just enough reporters to pack the room when Heller entered and handed the gun over to police to start what became a 90-minute registration process.

Heller emerged from the courts with a thumbs up: He'd met with partial success. The city had taken finger prints, administered a 20-question exam, and subjected the gun to a ballistics. He could take the gun home as long as it was empty and trigger-locked. But he'd have to come back in a week with two passport photos, and wait for the city to process the rest of his information with a background check. Part of the reason for the delay is the city's law defining "machine guns"—anything that loads from the bottom or can hold more than 12 rounds at a time qualifies. "It's in the city's hands now," Jansen said.

Heller milled around with reporters for about 30 minutes, taking questions about whether he'd join a hypothetical lawsuit to roll back the rest of the gun restrictions. He would, but, in the words of Jansen, he hopes "the city gets it right this time" without that. On why he registered the colt: "I bought it because it was the gun they used in Gunsmoke," Heller said. "That used to be our culture."

I asked Heller about the petitions circulating his name as a Libertarian Party candidate for delegate against incumbent Democrat Eleanor Holmes Norton. (Heller is the treasurer of the D.C. LP.) He was coy about it.