According to NPR:

Dick Heller would like to be known as the “Gun Dude.”

For the self-described octogenarian who still works as a special police officer in the federal prison system, it’s a moniker that acknowledges the key role he has played in how the Second Amendment is interpreted today.

An individual right to own a gun for personal protection is an idea that is deeply rooted in American culture. But for most of U.S. history, there was little actual legal framework to support any such interpretation of the Second Amendment. It wasn’t until a relatively recent Supreme Court decision that this all changed.

Heller was at the center of it. In 2003, he was one of six individuals who sued the District of Columbia over its restrictive gun laws and won. As the case made its way through the courts, Heller became the sole plaintiff.

The Second Amendment states that “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

While Heller may not be a household name, the case that bears his name redefined gun ownership, as it marked the first time the Supreme Court affirmed an individual right to gun ownership that was separate from the “militia clause” in the Second Amendment.

“The Heller case is clearly one of the most important Second Amendment cases in American history, if not the most important,” says Adam Winkler, a professor at the UCLA School of Law.

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