14th Amendment

Otis McDonald, Civil Rights Hero and Second Amendment Champion, 1933-2014


Credit: PhotoShop Guru / Flickr.com

Otis McDonald, lead plaintiff in the landmark gun rights case McDonald v. Chicago (2010), died this weekend at the age of 80. As Brian Doherty noted yesterday in his obituary, McDonald was a South Side Chicago grandfather who wanted a handgun to protect his family from local hoodlums and fought all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court to vindicate his rights. Thanks to his victory, the Second Amendment now joins the First Amendment and other Bill of Rights guarantees in applying to both the federal government and to the states.

McDonald v. Chicago was a civil rights triumph in every sense of the term. At its heart, the case dealt with the original meaning of the 14th Amendment, the constitutional safeguard enacted in 1868 to wipe away the last traces of slavery, particularly the noxious "Black Codes" designed by the former Confederates to prevent the freedmen from owning property, moving freely, and keeping and bearing arms for self-defense.

The city of Chicago rejected that original meaning and declared instead that state and local governments should be free to restrict gun ownership as they saw fit. Yet as Alan Gura, the lawyer who represented Otis McDonald before the Supreme Court, told the justices during the March 2010 oral arguments:

In 1868, our nation made a promise to the McDonald family that they and their descendants would henceforth be American citizens, and with American citizenship came the guarantee enshrined in our Constitution that no State could make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of American citizenship.

Otis McDonald forced the nation to keep its word, vanquishing Chicago's handgun ban in the process. "There was a wrong done a long time ago that dates back to slavery time," he told the Chicago Tribune in 2010. "I could feel the spirit of those people running through me as I sat in the Supreme Court." His win not only vindicated their spirit; it expanded the constitutional liberties of all Americans going forward. He was a civil rights hero who made his country a better place.

"He was absolutely among the nicest, most genuine and warmest of people," Alan Gura recalled of Otis McDonald. "We're fortunate to have had him in our lives and on the side of freedom."

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  1. Didn’t the murder rate drop in Chicago this year? This man is very probably responsible for saving lives. More so than any Chicago pol, at least.

    1. It did, by quite a bit, I believe, but it’s a little early to determine causation/correlation I think. I’m curious to see what it is five years hence.

    2. So far this year it has dropped.

      Has more to do with the ridiculously cold winter than a restoration of 2nd amendment right in Chicago.

      1. It was down last year as well. I do think it has more to do with changes in policing than with McDonald.

    3. Chicago still has ridiculous anti gun policies, you will still get arrested simply for transporting one, even in accordance with federal law (which is the law that covers transporting firearms from one location where you can legally possess them to another)

      1. Not any more. Chicago gun laws are mostly the same as the rest of Illinois now. (Concealed carry law basically forced them to drop almost all their anti-gun laws)

        I know that’s not saying too much since we do have some restrictive statewide laws. Follow FOPA and you’ll be Ok.

        The only things I know that could trip up a Chicago visitor are
        laser sights
        mags over 15 rounds
        ‘assault weapon’ (don’t know how they define it)

  2. So when will we get an Eyes on the Prize Part Two to chronicle heroes like him?

    1. Well, there is always Robert Williams – http://www.pbs.org/independent…..swithguns/

      1. Certainly a champion of the right of Americans to bear arms in America. But when he lived in Communist Cuba and Maoist China and praised their regimes, I don’t think he defended the right to bear arms.

        1. Too true, too true. He seems to have joined Paul Robeson in not always thinking things through to their logical conclusion.

          1. From PBS, here is “Paul Robeson…All American.”


            McDonald should have been a commie if he wanted to get a good portrayal on PBS.

  3. Here’s to him.

  4. http://www.theblaze.com/storie…..read-this/

    Chicago was one of the most dangerous cities in the world before Illinois was forced by this decision to pass conceal and carry. Now it has recorded its lowest murder rate since 1959.

    Gun controlers support policies that by any reasonable measure result in people being murdered. That point should always be thrown in their faces. They are okay with people dying as a price for their idiotic superstitions becoming law.

    McDonald, though his case, saved the lives of dozens and eventually hundreds and thousands of people in Chicago. Few people can say they did so much good.

    1. McDonald did not get us concealed carry.

      1. IIRC, Illinois got concealed carry due to a court ruling based in part on McDonald v. Chicago, so he sort of did.

  5. “Nice lawsuit you got here- it’d be a shame if something were to happen to your plaintiffs.”

  6. the guarantee enshrined in our Constitution that no State could make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of American citizenship.

    Any law which shall infringe the rights — not so much.

    Still, thanks, Mr. McDonald. RIP.

  7. Wait wait wait…he was black?

    I am just now learning this. Shocking, I know, that the media would keep this fact from me.

    Did the Democratic Party have a complete meltdown over this case?

    1. It was highlighted in a few outlets. It was a big deal here locally.

  8. Just imagine how much the death rate might fall if it were somehow possible to teach young people to respect themselves and others. Maybe if they had the opportunity to work and learn the gratification of self-ownership, they might be happier and less frustrated.

  9. Did the Democratic Party have a complete meltdown over this case?

    Let’s just say the Chicago Political Machine did not embrace him as a hero.

  10. It can never be pointed out enough that the modern gun control movement has roots firmly planted in pure racism. Even the laws that were not enacted for explicitly racist reasons were in the same spirit as they were to keep guns out of the hands of the lower classes.

    “Chicago was one of the most dangerous cities in the world before Illinois was forced by this decision to pass conceal and carry. Now it has recorded its lowest murder rate since 1959.”

    Where is that fucking shrieking idiot Morgan to tell us that more guns does not mean less crime?

  11. The Chicago PD is paying $1 million per month to settle lawsuits. I can’t imagine why somebody – particularly a poor black man – would not want to be entirely dependent on them for his safety.

    1. Inner cities with strict gun laws are monuments to all of the concerns pro gun people have about the type of society gun control would create. In places like innner city Washington, New York or before CCW, Chicago, the abiding and the physically weak are defenseless against the strong and the criminal. What is the old person trying to walk to their car or the store going to do when a group of younger, stronger and armed people attack him? Nothing except be a victim.

  12. I had formed a gun club in my 6th grade class. It had 5 members. The other members were bored shitless by my insistence that they learn to work out some ballistics math, but they loved our meetings. We took turns meeting at each others homes and having the fathers tell us about and shoot their guns. One kid, his name was Mark…..uh….I forget his last name…his grandfather was a WWII vet and had an extensive collection. We ogled all of his guns and then he let us shoot his Enfield Mk5 Jungle Carbine.

    Every year the Sheriff’s Department shooting team would come to the school and put on an exhibition.

    The same year that I formed a gun club, the NRA came to the school and everyone took their hunter safety course. The girls could opt out, but it was mandatory for boys, not that any boys would have opted out anyway. It was great fun. We watched safety and hunting videos, learned safe practices like crossing fences with a gun, transporting guns, how to operate different types of actions etc. on the playground. After we graduated we had a skeet shoot on the playground. Everyone got three pigeons. It was fucking great.

    I wonder what would happen if a 6th grade kid formed a gun club now.

    Oh, I almost forgot to mention that this was back in the day when practically no one locked their door when they left the house.

    1. By ogled I mean we all took turns putting greasy, salty fingerprints all over his Lugers, Mausers, and Garands.

      Poor guy probably should have had us all cleaning his guns afterward.

    2. Hey, I still have the Gun Safety card I got for the training we got in 5th grade (circa 1967). The teacher brought his shotgun to school for a demo. althouth we didn’t actually get to shoot. But it was just part of the education of a boy…how to handle a gun.

    3. fapfapfapfapfapfapfapfapfap

  13. This case and decision by the Supreme Court was a victory for freedom and the Constitution over government trying to dictate to people.

    The attorney said Mr. McDonald was the nicest of people. It is good to have people like that prevail over intrusive government. It makes it doubly nice.

    Unfortunately, the fight is not over. We have the UN to deal with on international arms control that has the potential to impact the second amendment, if this administration lets it.

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