JFK, NRA, Heller Connected

By John M. Snyder

There is a deep connection between the memory of President John F. Kennedy, the National Rifle Association, and Richard Heller’s Second Amendment court challenges to District of Columbia firearms control.

Few people realize it, but our late president was a Life Member of the NRA.  As a matter of fact, Kennedy was featured prominently firing a shotgun in the 1966 United States Information Agency film, “Years of Lightning, Day of Drums.”

Today, the NRA supports Dick Heller’s second challenge to District of Columbia gun control law on Second Amendment grounds.  Dick first challenged the DC ban on private handgun possession in a case supported by philanthropist Bob Levy.  In its 2008 District of Columbia v. Heller decision, the U.S. Supreme Court accepted the arguments of attorney Alan Gura and ruled the DC law unconstitutional as a violation of individual Second Amendment gun rights.

Subsequently, the DC government enacted a gun control statute continuing to mandate firearms registration as a condition of gun ownership.  It imposed severe requirements as preconditions for registration.  It is that statute which Heller now is challenging with NRA support in the case of Heller v. District of Columbia, known as Heller Two..  Now it’s in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit.  His attorneys Stephen Halbrook and Richard Gardiner maintain that a registration requirement for possession violates the fundamental right to bear arms of the Second Amendment as elucidated by the Supreme Court in Heller One.


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