The Wednesday shooting of an unarmed security guard at the Family Research Council (FRC) put the debate over the right to bear arms in the District of Columbia into the spotlight.
I was interested to hear what D.C.’s most famous security guard, Dick Heller, thought of how the event could have been prevented and his take on the mayor’s comments about the city’s gun laws.
Mr. Heller famously took his case to have a gun at home to the Supreme Court, and in 2008 he won, ending the 30-year handgun ban in the nation’s capital. While he has been certified by the city as “special police” to lawfully carry a firearm while on the job protecting a downtown office building, he fought for his right to have a gun at home for self-defense.
While the Heller decision forced Washington to recognize the constitutional right to keep arms, it did not deal with the right to bear arms outside the home. Thus, the city has maintained its all-out ban on open or concealed carry. The guard at FRC, Leonardo Johnson, is not “special police” so cannot carry a gun to work.
“Any security guard anywhere else in the country — where we have 49 states that have concealed carry - that security guard could have been carrying,” Mr. Heller told me on Friday. “If this shooter would have pulled what he did in Maryland, they would have taken him out in a body bag.” Instead, the accused shooter, Floyd Lee Corkins II, shot Mr. Johnson in the arm as he struggled to subdue him.
Mr. Heller said he’s working on the “Heller 3” case to push for concealed carry rights in Washington. He said that he sent a letter to Metropolitan Police Department Chief Cathy L. Lanier which said “I intend to conceal carry this firearm when I’m off duty on the streets at midnight.” His shift is 4 p.m. to midnight.
(The case referred to as “Heller 2” challenges the constitutionality of D.C.’s mandatory firearm registration law. In Oct. 2011, the U.S. Court of Appeals decided that the registration requirements are valid only if the District presents “some meaningful evidence, not mere assertions, to justify” those requirements. The city council amended the laws in May to reduce the requirements for registration. Mr. Heller’s attorney, Richard Gardiner, said that the attorneys have filed a new complaint in the case and are waiting for the District to respond.)
I asked Mr. Heller about Mayor Vincent Gray’s comments Thursday that the shooting showed the effectiveness of having the “most stringent, restrictive” gun laws in the country.
Mr. Heller believes the strict gun-control laws are counter-productive. “The political solution to the crime problem in D.C. is to disarm the responsible, hard-working, taxpaying people so as to increase the death rate,” said Mr. Heller. “The mayor preventing the security guard from having a gun does nothing but create marshmallow victims when the security gets past the security guard.” He said that the term “marshmallow victims” means “someone who as is defenseless as a marshmallow to respond to a violent crime.”
Mr. Gray told Newschannel 8 that he was “proud” of the city’s gun laws. Mr. Heller responded to these comments by saying that if Washington politicians are “so proud of their gun laws, they should also be proud of their violent crime rate.” That rate has gone up 10 percent in the last year.
Emily Miller is a senior editor for the Opinion pages at The Washington Times. Her “Emily Gets Her Gun” series on the District’s gun laws won the 2012 Clark Mollenhoff Award for Investigative Reporting from the Institute on Political Journalism.You can also follow her on Twitter and Facebook.