tv Dick Heller at Conservative Political Action Conference CSPAN February 24, 2018 11:48pm-12:06am EST
that perhaps you have not been able to talk about in the media or something we have not addressed? mr. mulvaney: we are not out to get you anymore. go. [applause] go out, do what you do. do your job, do something, take a chance, be american. prove to people capitalism, this capitalistic system works. we have been the envy of the world in the past. we can do so in the future. take a chance, do what you want to do, be successful and the government will not be in your way if you want to do that. deneen: thank you, sir. thank you, folks. mr. mulvaney: thank you. ♪ [applause]
>> this is dick heller, for those of you who have heard of the supreme court. this is him. [applause] >> he is a real man. dick: a real dude. >> he is a real dude. he is a dude. we are great friends, and he has changed my life in the sense that i have the right and have a gun at home legally in the district of columbia solely because of this man's fight. [applause] >> thank you. >> so dick, take me back because people tell me about the heller decision and do not realize it was one man that fought for so many years. tell me when it started? >> i moved into washington dc in 1976.
a few weeks later i said, oh, my favorite television program is "gunsmoke," and i like matt dillon guns, so i went to buy one because there were no regulations, no restrictions. i bought that in july 1976. and in october the d.c. city council passed a law that said you were no longer allowed to own any kind of a firearm in d.c. but you cannot buy one after that, but you could be grandfathered in by coming down to the police station and registering your firearm. >> think about that. mr. heller: that did not sound right to me, so i said why would i want to register it? it is because they want my address. they want to come and get my gun and full confiscation. i said no, so i had some options. i could turn the gun into the police station. i could throw it in the dumpster, or i could go to jail. i took my gun out of the
district to my brother's house and said there has got to be a fourth option. >> and so, you had this gun, and you saw -- for those of you from normal parts of the country -- [laughter] mr. heller: america. >> there were, until dick heller fought this fight and one in 2008, this is the 10th anniversary and what we are celebrating today, the 10th anniversary of restoring our second amendment rights. [applause] emily: the man himself. it was illegal. obviously unconstitutional we know in d.c., in new york, in chicago, in the liberal, urban places where they made it illegal to own a gun. i am not talking about carrying it. i am talking about owning it at home for self-defense. he fought for the right to keep arms. so what did you do?
how did you fight? how did you get to the supreme court? how many years did that take? mr. heller: when they took my second amendment right away in 1976, i said there is a second amendment right. somehow i am allowed to own this firearm, but i did not know anything about the law. i was a computer programmer. in 1976 i started doing research, talking to everybody i could over sometime in the think tanks and getting ideas. in 1993 we met some think tanks that sort of liked the idea. a couple of us paired up, and we got some people to support us, and at the same time the cato institute had the same idea, and we paired up and eventually we had six plaintiffs that decided we are going to fight the city. we sued the city, and some short time thereafter, and the rest i
don't remember the dates exactly. it is in the law book emily:. that is boring. keep going. [laughter] the lawyers are next. we will get into the court stuff. we are focusing on you the man, first of all as you tell a story. i never knew you when to think tanks. how many of you go to think tanks -- two tried to change constitutional laws. mr. heller: what is a think tank? emily: you had to do all this research on your own, and neither of us are lawyers. this case builds. people started coming to you and supporting it. and it goes through -- what was the first ruling it had? you appealed and you said i can't own a gun, which the constitution second amendment, all of you who have your constitutions, pull them out, second amendment, the right and bearing arms. except in liberal cities.
no, no, no. when you start building this case, what was the first decision made in the court on your right to have a gun at home? mr. heller: let's see. the first decision would have been -- since it was a federal issue, firearm is a federal case, it went to the d.c. district court it is called. and let's see. it was a struggle to get there. but the decision flip-flopped back-and-forth, and finally we won in the appellate court. d.c. said we are going to challenge this. emily: by saying you won, you got to the appellate court, which are regionally around the country. the d.c. appellate court said you won, completely owning guns. then the mayor said we would bring this to the supreme court. mr. heller: exactly. emily: that was a tactical
mistake, well known by the d.c. mayor. it opened up a lot of people -- which people did not see coming -- the supreme court made its ruling in 2008 in a landmark heller case that said, what? dick: the supreme court, my favorite quote -- there is a lot of stories, interesting stories to get to the supreme court, but my favorite story about the supreme court is that i did not know anything about the law. i did not know how this decision might go. but when they announced that justice scalia was going to read the decision, and i liked -- this is my quote. here is what scalia said. we are not here today to a race -- erase the second amendment from the united states constitution. [applause] emily: [laughter] mr. heller: i did not know anything, but i know we had won something. emily: god rest his soul, justice scalia. mr. heller: rest in peace.
that is what he will be forever famous for. emily: i have never asked you -- we are good friends, but when you go to the supreme court, and if anyone has ever been there, it is an amazing american experience. you don't get to see it on tv. when you are there, it is lawyers and governments and all stuff, but it is all about the case of just dick heller. that is it. what was it like sitting in the front row with all these justices in front of you? mr. heller: it is amazing. the supreme court gallery for observers is not much bigger than this inner area -- emily: it is very small. mr. heller: it was full of people. you could hear your heart beat. it was like being in a quiet room, if you are familiar with that. and if a mouse ran across the floor, you would have heard it. quiet.
emily: you were at that front table looking up at the supreme court justices. mr. heller: the other thing is, it was so quiet, how quiet was it other than the mouse? it was so quiet, total science -- silence, then the court clerk smashes the gavel and says oyez, oyez, then there was a noise i have never heard before, and they are coming through the curtain, opening it up. the noise was the swishing of their robes as they climbed the four steps to the bench. that is how quiet it was. this was a solemn moment. emily: that is very cool. and you are like oh, here they come. mr. heller: what is that noise. emily: while you are sitting there, were you thinking -- you
you all know but i think we forget is that supreme court hears the case and then does not make a decision for many months later. but when you are sitting in the courtroom thinking, i can't believe i started this 20 years ago, and here we are in the supreme court and swishing robes? dick: i said it is not the victory, it is the journey. 20 years of journey. maybe it was 35 years, 19, 2006. 40 years, 30 years? i am not a math major. and then what was impressive also was the night before, people were lined up to sleep on the sidewalk overnight, and i lived one block from the corner of the supreme court building. so i stole over on my bicycle, and i -- emily: so normal. dick: i said, what are you doing here? they said it was the greatest thing since, greatest gun decision that has ever happened. we are just so excited to be here.
they were jumping up and down. i was like, ok. you cool. emily: they did not recognize you? dick: of course not. it was march the 18th, and it was very cold as the sun goes down. they are preparing to sleep on the concrete. i went to the local drug store and got two big bags of cough drops, 200 each and passed them out to everyone. i said you will need these. they said thank you very much. and i met a couple -- emily: did you catch that? he gave them cough drops to keep them from getting sick. dick: about four cough drops per hand that was held out. i met a couple, dave and colleen lawton, and she had the first smartphone i had ever seen and was telling me all about it. so we became real good friends real fast. and the next day, when the line was ready to go into the supreme court, i went down that line and
shook everybody's hands and said, i am dick heller, thanks for coming. when i got to them, a lot of people had met me the night before, you are the guy. short story, dave and colleen talked about it, and they went back to chicago. they say that dick heller is such a normal dude. if he can do what he did -- they thought it was me by myself, but it was a battery of lawyers. emily: it was one man sitting in the courthouse. he can do that, we can do that. that , we can do that. dave and colleen lawson put together the otis and laura mcdonald case. chicago, chicago versus mcdonald. emily: this is constitutional history. when the heller decision was scalia 2008, justice
wrote that the individual rights atkeep arms, to own an arm home cannot be infringed. there was a lot of confusion whether it belonged to the militia, when you read that other segment. i suggest reading the heller decision. it is so readable it is not boring legal stuff at all. it is really interesting. if it was boring -- it is easy to read and not unapproachable. it said the problem was overall for the country is only -- d.c. is not a state, thank goodness. what he is talking about is when this couple went to chicago and started a new lawsuit two years later, supreme court, based on the heller decision made it for the entire country that we always have the right to have arms. [applause] dick: what i think was -- what is fascinating is that 15 minutes after justice scalia said we are not here to erase
the second amendment, the lawsuit was filed in the city of chicago that same day. and then that started the ball -- cap the ball rolling -- kept the ball rolling. the battles on gun control, constitutional rules are not over. dick and i am playing all the time about d.c. putting in this red tape. we have to go to the government if they want guns. there is a lot more to fight, but this is our time to look back and say it was the first time the united states government through the supreme court ruled that we as individuals have a natural god-given right to defend ourselves in our homes. and dick, what have you seen in -- 10 years since house this how this has impacted our country, what one person can do if the constitution and our rights are not being adhered to?
dick: after justice scalia said it was a constitutional, enumerated, imminent -- individual right, i was shocked to find there were 75 other law cases, lawsuits that have been brought in states throughout the country. now if you do the count, i am shocked to find out it is maybe more than 300 gun cases have been filed to defend our second amendment right. and right now there is a case in hawaii called fisher versus kolia for challenging the total gun lobby restrictions in hawaii. it will cause a conflict with other supreme courts, some other appellate court cases, so we might see another decision in a few years. emily: the fight for the constitution, and we are talking about, what both of us are talking about, what dick heller valiantly fought for and
continues for this day, is about our constitutional rights. law-abiding people to defend themselves. that is worth talking about. he will continue to fight on so many fronts. what you hope to see in your lifetime is -- what would you like to see, the second amendment recognized? dick: when i started becoming aware, i had a mantra. in a totally free country you don't need permission from the government to defend your life and own a firearm. [applause] a fellow walked into my office. i'm a policeman full-time, and a fellow walked in, and i said, you are from florida or someplace, some constitutional carry state which means you don't need any interactions own a firearm. i said you are from -- let's say arizona. i said you have constitutional carry. his response was, why would you
want a piece of paper from the government to own a firearm? i think that is it. that was beautiful. [laughter] [applause] emily: thank you for showing us how one american, any one of us can fight for individual rights and take it all the way and when the government oversteps our right, one man can make a difference. one person out there. every single one of you thank you. [applause] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2018] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit ncicap.org] ♪ [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit ncicap.org] [applause]