WashPost Buries Lede on DC Gun Ban Story

March 11th, 2007 8:47 PM

In the March 11 Washington Post, staff writers Elissa Silverman and Allison Klein took a look at the men and women behind a legal challenge to the Washington, D.C., handgun ban. But in doing so, it seems they buried the lede.

Information on one plaintiff came near the end of Silverman and Klein's 25-paragraph story:

Dick Heller, 65, said he became involved in the firearms debate in 1997 after he read a news story about a burglary in the District in which the homeowner shot the intruder -- and the homeowner was charged with a crime.

"That's what made us really livid," said Heller, who lives with his wife in Capitol Hill. "After that, I knew we had to be proactive."

That's the heart and soul of the case right there. The ban criminalizes law-abiding citizens who have a natural right to protect themselves, yet find that right severely undercut by District law which takes away a significant means of self defense: private ownership of a firearm.

But how crucial is Heller to the case? Without him, the case might well have been thrown out already:

Heller's decision to join the lawsuit proved fortuitous for the pro-gun contingent. The appeals court ruled that he was the only plaintiff with legal standing because he attempted to register a handgun in the District and was turned away.

When the suit was filed in 2003, Heller worked as a special police officer providing security at a federal court building near Union Station. He said he found it insulting that he could not bring his gun home.