Dining with Dick Heller was an informative experience. I learned that TTAG’s Managing Editor cooks ribs best described as meaty beaty big and bouncy. Bruce Krafft crafts beer with an alcohol content so high I started slurring my words before nose met head. Nick Leghorn doesn’t say boo to a goose—unless that goose is me deploying Nautilus-class puns. At which point Nick groans like I’d sucker-punched him. Tim McNabb believes in God. That is all. No wait, I learned that Dick Heller of District of Columbia v. Heller has mixed feelings about restoring gun rights to felons who’ve served their time in prison. The Special Police Officer is not comfortable with the concept . . .
“The recidivism rate is so high,” Heller said in a voice so gentle you wonder how many hours of his youth he spent watching Mr. Rogers Neighborhood. “Some two-thirds of prisoners go on to reoffend. Society can’t take the risk of giving these guys guns.”
“Huh?” I replied pithily, contemplating the implications of the gun rights guy being so parsimonious with ex-prisoners’ right to keep and bear arms. Citizens who need to defend themselves and their families when they return to the crime-ridden neighborhoods from whence they came without the legal ability to defend their lives and innocent life around them by force of arms. Ever.
“So you’re saying that one-third of the prisoners must lose their right to keep and bear arms because two-thirds of them might buy a gun legally and use it illegally?” I mooted. “Isn’t that the same kind of calculation that gun control advocates make: you can’t let everyone have gun rights because some people might abuse it?”
Heller was having a piece of Schnucks chocolate cake, but he wasn’t having any of my argument. “What are you going to do, put gun stores outside prison gates?”
Dan and Nick engaged in a little mutual eye rolling, And then Dan introduced the 500-pound gorilla in the room.
“Everyone this is Bubbles. Bubbles, this is everyone. You wouldn’t know it to look at him, but Bubbles is an ex-con. He served his time and left the zoo. Now what’s to stop an ex-con like Bubbles from buying a gun illegally?
“We can’t stop felons who want to commit a crime from buying a gun but we can stop good apes from re-joining society with all their rights intact. They become a persecuted minority. We make them second class simians just to give society a sense of security.”
“A false sense of security,” Krafft chimed in. “It’s security theater.”
“As ex-security, I can tell you that gun charges are extremely useful,” Tim pointed out pointedly. “We can use gun charges to get the bad guys on something else.”
Heller nodded. I ruminated. I’ve always held the gun rights are human rights, if not the human right. Bad guys should pay their debt to society, then resume as fully-fledged members of society. If they screw that up, they go back to prison. Wash, rinse, repeat, wait until the prisoner’s testosterone levels sink to acceptable levels (around age 40), then try again.
If people are victimized by a 2/3 population of released ex-cons, maybe we could try to ID the not-so-socialized majority are BEFORE they’re freed and hold off on that whole release thing for a while. Or maybe restore ex-cons gun rights after a suitable probationary period. (Heller likes that one.)
At the same time, if enough American civilians were armed, we could minimize the damage done by the revolving prison door. Deterrence isn’t just a word used by zombies when they’re getting their peeps together for a real world LaserLyte test.
Bottom line: I didn’t know Dick. Turns out the gun rights icon’s principles are based as much on rational and political calculations as exalted concepts of liberty, equality and self-reliance. Well good for him.
Sometimes someone has to compromise to make forward progress (e.g. allowing “reasonable restrictions” to get Justice Kennedy to do the right thing). Thank God it’s not me. And thank God it is Dick Heller. Nice guy. And yes, he finished last. And he took his plate into the kitchen. Definitely one of us.