Gun Rights

Otis McDonald, R.I.P. (The Man Who Got the Second Amendment Applied to States and Localities)


Otis McDonald, the American hero who showed physical, emotional, and political braveness in his role as lead plaintiff in the groundbreaking 2010 Supreme Court case McDonald v. Chicago had died at age 80, as reported by his hometown paper the Chicago Tribune.

McDonald saw his Chicago neighborhood plummeting in quality of life, the very safety of himself and his neighbors sometimes threatened by people who showed little respect for other people's life or safety.

He thought it was unjust that his city essentially barred him and his neighbors from owning the most common tool of self-protection, the handgun.

In the wake of the 2008 Heller decision (which I wrote a book about, Gun Control on Trial), which prohibited the federal government from violating our Second Amendment right to own commonly used weapons for self-defense in the home, Mr. McDonald became lead plaintiff in a case that went to the Supreme Court in 2010, challenging the city of Chicago's ban on handgun ownership.

McDonald won and the right to self-defense in the home via the Second Amendment was applied to the states and localities via the 14th Amendment.

I wrote about McDonald and his case for Reason back in our October 2010 issue in a cover story called "You've Come a Long Way, Baby":

From that story, summing up McDonald's struggle, and his character:

The lead plaintiff, Otis McDonald, is a 76-year-old father of eight and grandfather of more than he can count; he rose from a maintenance engineer at the University of Chicago to head of his union local. McDonald had been embattled by drug dealers, suffering five break-ins in the Chicago home he shares with his wife. "I had a troubled neighborhood," McDonald says. "I was pissed off about the way these kids that had grown up playing basketball in my backyard" had become a threatening gang. When you drive down his street, he says, "you don't get by unless they let you get by." He would see kids he'd known since they were 3 running down his alley, shooting at cars.

"I helped as much as I could help with their parents," McDonald says, "until they told me they didn't want to hear from me anymore in regards to them. I was just fed up. I had to find somebody, some organization, something with the resources and power, and then I knew that I could couple that with myself, with guts and the nerve to do what needed to be done." McDonald started attending gun rights rallies down in Springfield. "I learned a lot about this Washington, D.C., case," he says, "and that's what made me know the Lord was guiding me. I just felt so sure they were going to win the case." A friend McDonald met at a gun rally told Gura about him. When Gura needed clients, the two met and took to each other instantly…..McDonald recalls telling Gura: "Are you willing to go all the way? Then I'm your man, with the name and all. Furthermore, we are going to win."….

And as I wrote about my first occasion interviewing McDonald, the day his case was heard before the Court in March 2010:

Let me tell you something else about Otis McDonald: If you are lucky enough to meet the guy, you're going to love him. Really. In about a half hour of conversation, both one-on-one and in a small group, the guy was devastatingly charming, in a completely unstudied way. He's compelling and convincing and real, telling quotidian stories about being late for planes and late-night fishing; and equally so when getting historical and cosmic about the arc of his life and the role he knows he's playing in his country's history. One minute laughing and light, the other giving a sincerely tear-jerking account of the pride and gratitude he feels toward everyone else, especially the younger generation, advancing the scholarship and advocacy of his and his fellow Americans' rights. After that half hour, I was on this guy's side, just as a fellow human being. And a dream client for a civil rights case like this to boot, as the lawyers present agreed enthusiastically.

That the city of Chicago prevents this man from making the best choice available to him to protect himself and his family from the very real threats that surround him is, simply and with no constitutional history or theory required, wrong…..McDonald, his fellow plaintiffs, and the rest of Chicago will because of his efforts be able to exercise a core human right unmolested. That is great news…

It remains great news, and a great accomplishment from a great American, alas now passed.

NEXT: Dallas Unveils Super-Safe New School Bus With Fingerprint Scanner and Rear-View 'Pedophile Finder'

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  1. There are those who say this man was an Enemy of the People.

    1. I would be proud to be called an “Enemy of the People” by the kind of people who say things like “Enemy of the People”.

    2. Well yeah. The People is everyone except any particular individual. That’s why it is against the interests of The People for individuals to have any means of self defense. It might put someone else in danger. Like a robber, a mugger or a rapist. Criminals have rights too you know.

      1. Slavemaking degenerates tire me right the fuck out. There’s a lot to be said for living in a cabin in the middle of the woods, far from civilization.

        1. With a small harem.

          1. Naturally. 😛

          2. That better be a voluntary arrangement. If not, please turn in your membership card.

    3. There are those who say this man was an Enemy of the People.

      First and foremost, mayor Emanuel as he pointed his stubby finger at the TV screen.

  2. It was a great step in the right direction, but I’m just tired of incremental betterment. Until I can walk into a store, buy a gun, and carry it anywhere, I’m not free.

    1. Speaking of walking out of stores, I might have a real life reason story happening.

      So, Friday, a co-worker and friend of mine was telling me about an ongoing situation involving 2 store owners, one of whom he works for occasionally.

      Anyway, so my friend works an occasional evening tending the store of a friend of his, it’s a tobacco shop. The shop has been there 20+ years.

      Over the past few months, a new restaurant opened on the other side of the parking lot from the shop. Almost immediately the owner of my friends shop started receiving visits from the city about various ‘complaints’, none of which were found to be true.

      When the visits from city officials ceased, something new started happening. When customers of the shop have been walking outside the shop and lighting up cigars or pipes, the owner of the restaurant has been running outside, screaming at them, saying that they can’t smoke, and that they are going to jail. He is often accompanied by his young daughter, with a video camera in hand.

      So my friend told me that he is going to venture outside the shop the next evening that he works there, along with a customer of the shop, who happens to be a lawyer, fire up some cigars, and wait for nanny bot guy to come out and start the harassment.

      I asked him if I can film it. I haven’t got that permission yet, but if I get it, I will post it on youtube and link here.

      1. Well, now you’ve got me all hot and bothered.

        1. I can’t wait to see what happens. But the restaurant owner is clearly full of shit, and I believe this is a clear case of the guy being an unhinged lunatic and harassing the guys customers. I would LOVE to film this, but I don’t know if I will get permission, because at this point, things are definitely very tense. But if I get the chance, I will definitely be there.

          1. I’d go have a meal at his place, then complain to the health department. Frequently.

          2. What state are you living in? You need permission to film someone on the street?

            1. MD. And it’s Baltimore County.

              1. And, BTW, the nanny smoking laws in MD, stop at the door. There is no law against smoking in a parking lot. The guy is completely out of line.

              2. Please tell me it’s Pikesville!

      2. Can’t smoke? Going to jail? Fuck off and die, slavemaker. I’d pay to see what happens.

        I’m awaiting eagerly. I hope you get permission to film.

        1. Can’t smoke? Going to jail? Fuck off and die, slavemaker. I’d pay to see what happens.


      3. Can you smell his approximation of food anywhere off of his property? If he likes this sort of thing so much, perhaps his own odors should be added to the mix.

        1. Nice tip, and relevant.


  3. A guy named Patrick McCullough is running for mayor of Oakland–he’s a fringe candidate with no chance of winning, but during the recent “Public Safety” mayoral debate one of the idiot moderators suggested he was unfit for office because almost 10 years ago he shot a 15-yo drug dealer who was one of a dozen gang members threatening him outside his home.

    I was thinking, this guy has done more for public safety than all of the other candidates combined.

  4. Salon: Westeros is a Right-wing fantasyland because conservatives and libertarians love violence and rape.

    This is hilarious.

    Existential threats ignored too: In the show’s very first episode, Ned Stark, usually one of the more reasonable characters, ignores reports of ice zombies as he executes a solder for desertion. Never mind that those ice zombies will grow into an existential threat against the kingdom. “The white walkers have been gone for thousands of years,” Stark tells his son afterward. “A madman sees what he sees.”

    Is…is Salon arguing here that refusing to go to war on the totally unsubstantiated reports of a deserter is right wing?

    Didn’t we basically go to war in Iraq on the totally unsubstantiated reports of an Iraqi turncoat? Therefore, if Ned had marched off to war on flimsy and non-existent evidence, wouldn’t that have been the right wing decision?

    Salon can’t even keep their hilarious and incoherent stereotypes straight.

    1. I thought worrying about “existential threats” was a right-wing thing as well?

    2. Oh and I guess appearing in Plan Nine from Outer Space was pre-emptive punishment on Lyle Talbot for his son creating Salon.

    3. I have neither read the books nor seen the shows: do either lean in a political direction at all?

      1. There are no real political leanings. It’s just a brutal representation of total medieval warfare and Machiavellian power politics.

        It’s misanthropic, but has no real political inclination. GRRM does a good job keeping modern politics out of it, since it would be really anachronistic given that it takes place in a medieval fantasy world with values completely alien to our own.

        Of course, for modern leftists nothing is outside of the state because they are totalitarians. It’s therefore not surprising that they ruin everything fun with their political horseshit.

        1. Thanks.

          I think it was Rousseau who first argued that everything was politics. This is yet another reason why I can’t be a leftist. Sometimes a movie (TV show, etc.) is just a movie.

          Kase may be the same guy we had an hilarious conversation about a few weeks back on another one of his articles. A few of us dug into the background of that writer (I think it was Kase, not sure) and discovered he had written a review of Secretariat wherein he denounced the movie as a right wing propaganda fantasy.

          1. discovered he had written a review of Secretariat wherein he denounced the movie as a right wing propaganda fantasy.

            You’re thinking of Andrew O’Hehir. He’s one of the dumbest people working for Salon, which is a pretty impressive title.

            Here’s my favorite part of that review:

            That’s pretty much what happens here, with the blond, privileged Penny Chenery and her superhorse posed as emblems of American ingenuity and power against the villainous, swarthy and vaguely terrorist-flavored Pancho Martin (Nestor Serrano), trainer of Sham, Secretariat’s archrival. (Even the horse’s name is evil!)

            That was actually the horse’s name in real life. O’Hehir criticizes a movie based on a true story for using the actual name a horse actually had.

            1. Right, thanks for the reminder. I did find an epic takedown of O’Hehir’s review by someone on line.

              And even Roger Ebert called it ridiculous.

            2. Same kinda thing happened to me at work after everyone saw 300. Ignorant of the history of Thermopylae, my leftist co-workers thought the movie was political propaganda. It was a movie based on a comic book (based on a historical fiction novel?) based on a historical event. Everybody slow down. And Sparta was a slave society, so modern political analogies are a little tough with this one.

              1. I had a similar problem in a college writing course when I used an article from National Review in my paper. The author’s name was Richard Vigilante and the (liberal feminist) professor insisted that it was a fake name. She couldn’t believe that there was criticism of the War on Drugs from the right.

              2. Eh. Calling 300 political propaganda isn’t completely offbase.

                It bears mentioning that 300 is not exactly historically accurate, and virtually all of the historical inaccuracies make it conform to a pretty reactionary worldview.

                The Spartans were known for using homosexual sex as a team building exercise in their armies, but in 300 they jeeringly refer to the Athenians as ‘boy lovers.’ Xerxes was a pretty normal Persian king and was a trained warrior, but in 300 he’s an effete transvestite and we’re supposed to be disgusted by his supposed perversion. Not much is known about Ephialtes, the person who betrayed the Spartans, but in 300 he’s a hunchbacked and twisted cripple completely unlike the ubermensch who make up the rest of the Spartan army.

                It isn’t hard to look at the various inaccuracies in that movie and see it as anti-gay, anti-trans and pro-war.

        2. they ruin everything fun with their political horseshit.

          Well, they manage to at least make a very good attempt at it.

        3. Not true.

          There is a debate about slavery and government through out the books.

          Most of the ideas debated are with Jon Snow and his interactions with the Wildlings and Dany and her interactions with the Dothraki and slaving cities in Easteros.

          Admittedly the debate fits more with the American civil war or with the enlightenment…still it is not an apolitical discussion.

          1. But that’s the magic — the way the characters are constructed and presented means you can have slave cities and a blonde chick freeing their captives without making it a political commentary or critique. Martin’s pretty good at keeping the preaching to a low.

          2. They debate ideas, but their debates are always in character and the stories themselves have no political leaning.

            It’s not like you can read one of the books and says ‘this is a left/right wing book.’ I think people arguing about governance and politics in character is different than what Raven Nation was asking.

            1. No there is a larger theme to the debates among the characters that is pure Martin.

              He is making a political point. Though it is pretty muted and the politics of it are not very controversial. (slavery is bad, Nobel savage vs the tyranny of civilization)

              Also I think much of the political themes Martin is using is taken from Huck Finn and he is probably doing it more for literary reasons (he is an American author…a reference to Twain is almost mandatory) rather then pushing an agenda.

              1. Meh, I could just as easily point to contra examples that show the opposite.

                I think you’re reading into things here, and apparently, so do a lot of others.

                1. Dany is put into slavery by her brother and because of that experience she decides that slavery is immoral.

                  Huck is put into slavery by his father and because of that experience he decides that slavery is immoral.

                  Dany and Huck are the same age.

                  Dany’s directionless wondering mirrors Huck’s Journey down the Mississippi.

                  Spoiler do not read between **s

                  *in another reference in later books Tyrian literally takes a raft ride down a river into the deep slave owning lands.*

                  Nudity in Huck Finn is often associated with the noble savage. In GoT Dany is naked after securing the dragons (the means to her liberty) and her breasts are discussed in detail “moving freely” when she puts on her Dothraki cloths…literally clothing herself in the costume of the noble savage.


                  *this happens again when she is naked and surviving in the wild with her dragon and she comes upon a Dothraki band*

                  There are more references to Twain but they contain even more spoilers.

                  Martin also takes a lot from Marco Polo and from Xenophon’s 10,000 but that would be for a different discussion.

      2. Absolutely not. Martin would never sully his fantastic writing with that kind of shit. The internal politics of the books (and show) are so complex they need nothing from current times.

        Simply put, the kind of shitbags who think “the personal is the political” will cast modern, current politics on anything, anywhere, at any time. They have a disease, and they will infect you if they can, and they’ll infect anything that you enjoy if they can.

        1. Beyond noting libertarian or totalitarian streaks to certain character’s personalities, that’s completely true. Fuck leftists and their politicization of everything.

      3. I forgot where I had read it (maybe The American Interest) but an interesting piece on the fiction was a commentary on how Game of Thrones is a medival Europe without even the oft-flawed instruction of the church. Basically for all the excesses of rulers of that time, they still had to outwardly appear and follow Christian doctrine.

        But as mentioned, except for the lowest hanging fruit of political thought (slavery is bad, power corrupts) it’s as apolitical as anything out there.

        1. Game of Thrones is a medieval Europe without even the oft-flawed instruction of the church.

          The Church comes into it later on in the books.

          The world of Westeros is set in a time after the Targaryens pretty much shut the Church down in terms of strong political power.

          The Targaryens are now gone and so the Church starts pushing back.

          Also the old gods, Ahura Mazda (or what ever the red queen worships is called) and the Iron Isles religion do have a lot a political push….plus the faceless men are definitely playing at some political power ends.

    4. Can you even begin to imagine the sort of putrid horseshit these pinkos will start coming up with if Putin’s Russia happens to decide aggression worthy of an American military response is the way to go? Their brains’ll detonate.

      1. aggression worthy of an American military response

        By whose definition of “worthy”?

        My definition of worth aggression would pretty much require Russian troops on US soil.

        1. Yeah, I know. I’ve just got a super-niggle in my brain, born of my hatred for Putin’s empire, that almost makes me want to say fuck it to noninterventionism and watch the United States respond to his aggression in Europe by going on to burn Russia to the ground.

          I’m sane, so I ultimately agree with you, but it’s just so damned tempting.

        2. But — and this is a clear distinction for me — if Russia were to commit an act of war directly upon the United States, as you said, my opinion is that the only just response would be total war. And it wouldn’t be over until the Kremlin were ash and dust. Nuclear dust, if necessary.

          1. Yeah, see, the problem is nuclear dust WOULD be necessary. I don’t think we could get into a direct, total war with another nuclear power and NOT have nukes used. As soon as one side started losing too badly, they’d pull them out, if not sooner.

    5. Pictured: The author.

      That is the face of a man who lives in mortal terror that somewhere, someone might be enjoying themselves.

    6. Not to be a dick, but why you post links to that clickbait here?

      Fucking summarize it. Don’t financially support those retards.

    7. I don’t think Martin is pushing a “conservative libertarian” agenda.

      But didn’t the TV show makers put Bush’s head on a spike?

      I mean the article is more about the show then books.

      He talks about Chaos being a ladder which i think is not even mentioned in the books. Littlefinger in the books keeps his agenda pretty close to his chest. He does not go into long exposition very much…or at least exposition that gives to much away in terms of what his own motives are.

    8. “Game of Thrones” follows the stories of lords and knights, but most of the population lives in anonymous poverty…. The elite live in opulent luxury, earned through the toil of the working people, most of whom have no hope of escaping their fetid lot.

      I believe we call that feudalism. Or the Soviet Union, whichever you prefer.

      Weapons everywhere: Talk about standing your ground. In war-torn Westeros everybody’s armed, and travelers need to be prepared for a fight at all times.

      One never knows when one will run into a Gregor Clegane. Or an Amory Lorch. Or a Ramsay Snow. Or a Vargo Hoat. Or maybe you should just call them a sexist patriarchal pig and they’ll scamper off, intellectually defeated.

      Or they’ll just rob, rape, and murder you in no particular order.

      Aaron Kase is a freelance writer from Philadelphia.

      Really? Drooling idiot would have been my first guess.

  5. I’m sure Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson, Mellisa Perry Harris, and the rest of the leftist, hate mongering racists cum-suckers will be singing his praises.

  6. I have it on good authority that libertarians hate all black people and union members, so this article is clearly a sham.

    1. And women.

  7. Back on-topic:

    You mean old McDonald bought the farm?

    … Hobbit

  8. Ave atque vale, Mr. McDonald. A man who raised a banner and won back rights for all Americans at a fundamental level. May his soul rest in peace.

    It has long tickled me that here we have an example of a person who, because of the pety things the left would have made significant, the left would have raised up a hero had his biggest political involvement been something they approve of. Because his legal case not only challenged but won back leagues of progress one of their cherished hobby horses they had to tip-toe around him while averting their gaze and ignore the reality of his existence.

  9. Sounds like some serious business to me dude.

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