Heller: If someone in the Aurora cinema was armed, this tragedy could have been avoided
The plaintiff in the landmark gun rights Supreme Court decision, District of Columbia v. Heller, re-affirmed his support of restoring gun rights in the wake of July 20 Aurora, Colo., cinema spree shooting in his exclusive interview with Human Events and Guns & Patriots.
Dick Heller, who is an armed special police officer in a federal office building, said it was about 9 a.m. Mountain Time when he got the news that a madman had opened fire on in the Century 16 movie house showing the new Batman movie, “The Dark Knight Rises,” hitting more than 70 people in the audience and killing at least 12.
“I was at work and I called one of my friends, who is an armorer in West Virginia, and who has a Class III license to manufacture machine guns, and he broke the news to me,” he said.
“In Colorado, I am surprised someone wasn’t armed to be able to defend themselves or to shoot back,” he said.
The best defense against a crazed spree shooter is an armed citizen, he said.
“Gun ownership isn’t about duck hunting, it’s about saving your life and defending all the civil liberties we enjoy in this country,” he said.
“If we did not have our gun freedom, America would be a lawless place like Somalia,” he said. “If Somalia had a Second Amendment, and the civil rights we have, they would look more like America.”
When people know that a community is full of gun owners, it is a deterrent to shooter even attempting to go on his spree, he said. “Because the shooter does not know what their risk level is.”
The shooter, identified as James Holmes, 24, North Aurora, pulled off a complex attack with at least four weapons, including an AR-15, with a gas-emitting device, while wearing a gas mask and protective gear, according to the Aurora Police Department. The shooter was arrested in the rear of the cinema without a chase or struggle.
There is something strange about Holmes, Heller said. “For him to have been in medical school and then gone off the deep end, something must have really happened to him.”
Most people do not realize it, but mental health information is already a part of a gun owner’s profile, he said.
“As an example, I have a friend, who is a police officer — and at the same time for Homeland Security and a ‘gun slinger’ special police officer license in the District of Columbia, just like I do, and he had a third job in Maryland with a Maryland state firearms permit to be a special police officer — and with all three of those credentials, they will not let him buy a gun because 20 years ago he volunteered to speak with a school counselor,” he said.
“He cannot get it changed from his profile, but he can still carry a gun for Homeland Security,” he said.
That’s how absurd the system can be, so the last thing you want is to require a psyche-test,” Heller said. “That just gives government more control over your life and it’s not necessary.”
If you are bad guy, he said. “By the time you buy your own gun at 21, you’re going to be already well known in the electronic databases,” he said.
Given the system’s arbitrary nature and its unresponsiveness to appeals, mental health issues should not be further incorporated into the gun owning process, he said. First, fix the system or provide a process for appealing misleading or false information.
As Heller’s work day continued that tragic Friday, he got word that all federal buildings would fly the American flag at half-mast until sunset July 25 in honor of the victims of Aurora, he said.
But, he also had a number of people come up to him to say how grateful they were to have Heller and his fellow guard in the building to protect them, he said.
“They are extremely appreciative that we are armed.”