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MILLER: Armed against tragedy
FRC shooting highlights Heller’s fight for concealed-carry rights in D.C.
Question of the Day
Liberals are anxious to talk about workplace or school shootings when it suits their political agenda. That's why the usual suspects are observing a vow of silence regarding Wednesday's armed attack on the Family Research Council (FRC). This incident puts the debate over the right to bear arms in the District of Columbia into the spotlight.
The nation's capital maintains an all-out ban on open or concealed carry of any firearm, as it refuses to recognize the Second Amendment right to bear arms outside the home. The deranged shooter at FRC knew he was entering a gun-free zone. The security guard there, Leonardo Johnson, didn't have the "special police" commission authorizing him to use a gun on the job. As a result, he was shot in the arm as he successfully thwarted what could have been a deadly assault on the pro-family group.
Dick Heller, the District's most famous security guard, said he thinks Washington's gun laws made the FRC incident especially dangerous. "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 The Washington Times. "If this shooter would have pulled what he did in Maryland, they would have taken him out in a body bag."
Mr. Heller does have the certification allowing him to carry a firearm lawfully while on the job protecting a downtown office building, but that wasn't enough. A decade ago, he launched his fight for the right to keep a gun at home, taking his case all the way to the Supreme Court.
In 2008, Mr. Heller won, ending the 30-year handgun ban in the nation's capital. While the Heller decision forced Washington to recognize the constitutional right to keep arms, it didn't deal with the right to bear arms outside the home.
The Second Amendment activist didn't rest on this high-court victory. His ongoing "Heller 2" case challenges the constitutionality of the District's mandatory firearm-registration law. In October 2011, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit decided the burdensome requirements are valid only if the District presents "some meaningful evidence, not mere assertions, to justify" them.
The D.C. Council amended its ordinances in May to ease the registration process. Mr. Heller's attorney, Richard Gardiner, said a new complaint has been filed in the case and is awaiting the District's response.
Mr. Heller is also working on "Heller 3" to push for concealed-carry rights in Washington. He sent a letter to Metropolitan Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier informing her he intends "to conceal carry this firearm when I'm off duty on the streets at midnight." His shift runs from 4 p.m. to midnight.
Violent crime in Washington is up 10 percent over last year, proving that disarming law-abiding citizens hasn't deterred any criminals. D.C. residents shouldn't have to wait for unelected judges to force the city to respect the Constitution. The city council should grant carry rights now.
Emily Miller is a senior editor for the Opinion pages at The Washington Times.
© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
About the Author
Emily Miller is senior editor of opinion for The Washington Times. She is the author of “Emily Gets Her Gun … But Obama Wants to Take Yours” (Regnery 2013). Miller won the 2012 Clark Mollenhoff Award for Investigative Reporting from the Institute on Political Journalism.
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