Pointed gun barrel
Image by Marcus Trapp from Pixabay

Winner of landmark gun-rights case considers return to court

Stephen Gutowski of the Washington Free Beacon explains why Dick Heller’s name might return to the national headlines.

The man at the center of a landmark Supreme Court ruling that struck down major gun-control laws may be back in court to challenge Washington, D.C.’s handling of Second Amendment rights.

Dick Heller, whose lawsuit led the Supreme Court to declare blanket handgun bans unconstitutional, told the Washington Free Beacon that he may sue the city for hindering his right to bear arms in the face of long wait times for purchases.

Heller has been waiting since mid-April for police to process a transfer for a .32 caliber handgun he purchased in Pennsylvania. He accused city authorities of dragging their feet.

“It’s a bureaucracy and they’re understaffed,” Heller told the Free Beacon. “They couldn’t care less. They are noticeably not in a hurry.”

Residents who wish to purchase guns must go through the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD), the only federally licensed gun dealer in the city—an arrangement unique to the nation’s capital. In neighboring Virginia, as with many states across the country, handgun transfers and the background checks that accompany them generally take minutes instead of months. The department told the Free Beacon that record demand was to blame for the delays.

“In less than three months that MPD has been handling this service, the Department has received about half of the guns that the prior Federal Firearms Licensee received in all of 2019,” department spokeswoman Alaina Gertz said. “We are currently reexamining processes to try to identify additional efficiencies.”

Heller’s experience is not unique. Sam, who asked not to be identified for fear of facing backlash at his job on Capitol Hill, said he is still waiting to pick up the pistol he purchased on May 29. Christian, a former schoolteacher and civilian contractor in Afghanistan, has also been unable to retrieve his legally purchased guns after a months-long wait.

Mitch Kokai / Senior Political Analyst

Mitch Kokai is senior political analyst for the John Locke Foundation. He joined JLF in December 2005 as director of communications. That followed more than four years as chie...