Chicago Magazine on the Chicago Gun Case


The latest issue of Chicago Magazine looks at the Supreme Court's upcoming Second Amendment case McDonald v. Chicago, which challenges the city's notorious handgun ban. Here's a snippet profiling lead plaintiff Otis McDonald:

Today McDonald, a bright-eyed and trim 76-year-old grandfather, considers himself one of few defenders of peace and security on the leafy, house-lined street where three of his children grew up and played. The gangbangers and drug dealers have taken over, he says. "You go out there in the morning and pick up bottles and things on the lawn," he explains, describing events of the past summer. "They're out there at three in the morning, in the middle of the street, drinking and smoking their stuff. They throw stuff all over your lawn, and you can't say anything, because they might up and shoot you." McDonald says his house has been broken into three times and his garage twice—most recently, early one morning this past August by a man McDonald recognized from around the neighborhood. Does McDonald think the robber planned to sell the stolen possessions for drugs? "Of course, of course," he says matter-of-factly.

Otis McDonald wants a handgun—a pistol to carry around the house and keep on his bedside table at night. An avid hunter, he has two shotguns in the house, but he says those weapons are too unwieldy to use when facing a midnight intruder. More to the point, McDonald believes that if Chicago residents were allowed to keep handguns in their homes, criminals would think twice before breaking in—a fairly common rationale among gun-rights supporters. McDonald, however, is no ordinary gun-rights supporter: In 2008, he joined three other residents in a lawsuit to get rid of the city's handgun ban, the most restrictive gun law in the country and probably the most far-reaching because of Chicago's size.

Read the rest here. For Reason's coverage of the case, see here.


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  1. This may be an obvious comment, but it bears pointing out that Chicago’s handgun ban obviously hasn’t succeeded at keeping guns out of the hands of the hoodlums hanging around the street in McDonald’s neighborhood.

    1. There you go with the glass half empty thing. The upside is it keeps guns out of the hands of the non-criminals. You can’t have everything. At least there’s fewer guns “out there” and we can all rest easier knowing that. We may have to continue to worry about criminals shooting us and robbing and raping us, but at least we don’t have to worry about the nonviolent, law abiding noncriminals doing it. All thanks to gun control. Count our blessings.

      1. Re: DWCarkuff|12.31.09 @ 10:01AM|#

        We may have to continue to worry about criminals shooting us and robbing and raping us, but at least we don’t have to worry about the nonviolent, law abiding noncriminals doing it. All thanks to gun control. Count our blessings.


        So basically you are saying worrying about being shot, robbed, and raped is the issue, not about who may do it to you.

        Since you seem to have been occupied with worry so long, I’m guessing you may have missed the part of our legal and social framework where someone who shoots, robs, and/or rapes another at gunpoint comes under the category of criminal, and pretty much instantly ceases being a nonviolent, law abiding noncriminal (direct quote from your post).

        That being said, even with the majority of folks being noncriminals, you still have my permission to worry about whatever makes you feel complete.

        And for the record, citizens who are nonviolent, law abiding noncriminals are generally not deemed to be objects of worry except by politicians. (oops? you’re not a politician are you?)

        Anyway, enjoy your victimhood, and have a Happy New Year.

        1. Yes, it’s true that one is not a criminal until one commits a crime. The vast majority of criminals become criminals in their youth and maintain that pattern throughout their lives. Here’s a clue – only those inclined to obey the law will be constrained by gun laws and those inclined to commit violent crimes are not going to think twice about breaking gun laws. The Virginia Tech example below – as though there is anything at all we could do to prevent a pyschopath from harming others. Violent, dangerous people are not hampered by any laws and certainly not by weapons laws. The ONLY people who are are the law abiding. If there is some logic in disarming those inclined to be law abiding and inclined to respect the rights of others and thereby leaving them vulnerable to those who are not, I have yet to figure out what it might be.

          1. If you consider reality; i.e. statistical evidence and observable behavior for developing reasonable conclusions, to be a logical process, then you are right, there is no logic to it; therefore it comes as no surprise you have yet to figure it out.

            However if you consider fear, power trips, politics and arrogance (but I repeat myself) to be a logical process, then disarming the law abiding can can be figured out.

            For one motivated by fear and/or arrogance (also known as “the need to be right”) most ANY response will be defined as acting prudently and logically and can be justified.

      2. I suppose you would welcome having been a student at Virginia Tech when a man with no criminal record killed 32 people. It is hard for me to imagine that anyone capable of breathing could make such a senseless and ignorant comment.

  2. It’s a shame that our legal system forces this man to go through this expensive process to prevent Chicago from infringing on his rights after the Supreme Court told DC that they can’t limit the 2nd Amendment rights of their citizens.

    I don’t need the diagram of how it works. I wish it worked differently.

  3. It seems like the oddest characters are always the ones defending the rights of the masses. I just never expect people like Susette Kelo, Larry Flint, Otis McDonald to be the people on the front line of trying to secure rights. It’s kind of heart warming in humanity sort of way.

    1. I’m not sure about defending the rights of the masses, more like defending the rights of the individual.

      1. Invisible hand at work … in pursuing and preserving their own self interests and rights, they protect and pursue the rights and interests of society

      2. I think he meant “the masses” in the sense of “all the other individuals out there”.

        1. ya, I fail at conveying my opinion in text unless I’m going ballistic and being a dick.

  4. The city’s position is that only “fundamental rights” are incorporated by the 14th Amendment.

    It’s not fundamental because we say so.

    These people have the reasoning ability of children.

    1. Because, you know, the right to wear a condom (which, of course, is fundamental and is a right) is somehow more fundamental then the right to bear arms (and by extension,protect one’s life and property).


      1. I assure you, a condom can preserve both a man’s life (AIDS) and his property (child support).

  5. If the individual sets a precedent then the masses benefit from that precedent. Every satirical comedy sketch since Flynt went to the supreme court is protected because of him and the decision made on his case.

    I didn’t mean they do it for the people.

  6. You have to admit thats pretty insane!


  7. Go back and watch the confirmation hearings of Sonya Sotomayorrrrrrr.

    When questioned about the fundamental rights doctrine, she got it completely backwards. She essentially said that if the SCOTUS rules that something is subject to strict scrutiny, then it’s a fundamental right. And that the court had not decided yet which level of scrutiny applied to certain things, so there’s no way to tell whether they’re fundamental rights yet.


    After seeing parts of her confirmation hearings, it struck me that her reasoning and grasp of fundmantal concepts of constitutional law are mushy.

    Gura is impressive, though. The guy is extremely bright and an effective speaker.

    That article in the Chicago mag has a detecable leftward (anti-gun) tilt to it. It misrepresents the court’s ruling in the Miller case.

    1. That article in the Chicago mag has a detecable leftward (anti-gun) tilt to it.

      We need a gasping-equivalent of the sarcastic slow-clap. Something like


      I just can’t figure out how to translate that into an appropriate bodily action. It probably involves covering the mouth though.

      1. Exactly.

      2. I’m thinking something like the walk-off scene in Zoolander–David Bowie’s reaction to Ben Stiller giving himself a wedgie.

    2. Souter voted to uphold the DC gun laws in Heller, so there’s no way Sotomayor is any worse on this issue.

      1. Meh. Maybe. Just that, based on what I saw, she did not strike me as having stellar legal analytical reasoning faculties.

  8. Do you think the court houses in Chicago have metal detectors on them or do they just trust their own ban on guns to protect them as well. Here is the think IMO, when the person telling you that YOU don’t need a gun has one or has many people around them armed with guns, THATS when you really know you NEED A GUN!

    1. The court houses in Chicago have metal detectors on them, yes.

      1. They sure do. I worked for a judge at the Daley Center and went through the detectors every day. As I recall, a judge was actually shot and killed some years before I worked there.

  9. Meanwhile, Snowflakes in Hell exposes Bloomberg’s MAIG real agenda – draconian gun control legislation.

    What a shocker!

  10. These people have the reasoning ability of children.

    Cannons don’t sink ships.

    Pirates with cannons sink ships.

    1. “Why do you have that ship’s wheel on your belt, Mr. Pirate?”

      “Yarr… it’s drivin’ me nuts.”

  11. hopefully the challenge will be successful in court. in the mean time he could look into PCP (PreCharged Pneumatic) handguns and machine guns. these air guns are quiet and some are quite lethal and best of all no registering bullshit or problems carrying them.

    1. There is in Illinois.State law defines anything over 700fps or .18 caliber as a firearm.IIRC,Chicago bans airguns outright.

  12. I did not know that McDonald was a black guy. Cool!

  13. A crossbow, even a pistol-sized one, is a very effective visual and ballistic deterrent.

    Are these also restricted by the Chicago legislation?

    H.F. Wolff

  14. The NYT had a news story about a shooting the other day, with the reported casually tossing off some twaddle about how “this life would have been saved if this city weren’t flooded with guns” as if that little bit of *opinion* were patently obvious to anyone who isn’t a complete moron. I’d provide a link but all the stories are pretty much the same. Just google it and pick one at random.

    And for the record, I don’t know that guns have any effect on crime rates at all–the data I’ve seen don’t show any relation. NYC is safer than many pro(er)-gun cities. Switzerland seems no safer than Germany. But the cool part is that it doesn’t matter. The lack of any proof that “more guns = more crime” tells me that these bans are Bullsh!t.

    1. the incident in Finland is causing the debate in europe (pronounced, “yurp”) to focus their attention, natch, on the US, where they try to point out that legal guns = more murders.


    2. Since Obama was elected there has been an intense gun/ammo buying binge, i.e. many more guns in the hands of private citizens. The murder rate in New York has declined to multi-year (all time) lows. The murder rate in Los Angeles shown a similar decline.

      Obviously, more guns causes a decline in gun-related crimes.

    3. Switzerland seems no safer than Germany.

      What I think is worth noting is that Switzerland doesn’t seem to be any more dangerous than Germany, either, in spite of it’s laxer gun laws and far more widespread gun ownwership.

      1. Yeah, that too. All the (very cursory) research I’ve done on the issue tells me that there are many other factors such as culture, ethnicity (grievances perceived or real), and such are likely far more important than the level of gun ownership. Oh, and then there’s the drug war.

        1. (Preview, dammit!)

  15. Cannons don’t sink ships.

    Pirates with cannons sink ships.
    reply to this

    Pirates who know what they are doing try not to sink ships until after they’ve looted them.

    1. yeah your not a very good pirate if you sink the ship… an old computer game tought me that 😉

  16. An avid hunter, he has two shotguns in the house, but he says those weapons are too unwieldy to use when facing a midnight intruder.

    Actually, in the close-range situations you’d encounter in your house or yard, you really can’t beat the stopping power of a shotgun. It really is the ideal choice for home protection. But, it is quicker to grab a handgun.

  17. Is the plaintiff the black guy in the pic? Everyone knows gun rights don’t apply to “them.” Guns are only for hunters and white guys to shoot black “intruders.”

    1. I forgot about Mexicans.

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