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hoffmang
01-30-2010, 12:35 PM
This weekend the Chicago Tribune is running this profile of Otis McDonald (http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/chicago/ct-news-chicago-gun-ban-20100129,0,3152673.story). It seems that the author wanted to find something nefarious about the situation but just couldn't bring herself to attack Mr. McDonald in the end.

Excerpt:


http://www.chicagotribune.com/media/photo/2010-01/51938001.jpg
The public face of gun-rights battle
Southwest Side resident is part of next month's Supreme Court test of Chicago's gun ban

By Colleen Mastony

From behind the wheel of his hulking GMC Suburban, 76-year-old Otis McDonald leads a crime-themed tour of his Morgan Park neighborhood. He points to the yellow brick bungalow he says is a haven for drug dealers. Down the street is the alley where five years ago he saw a teenager pull out a gun and take aim at a passing car. Around the corner, he gestures to the weed-bitten roadside where three thugs once threatened his life.

"I know every day that I come out in the streets, the youngsters will shoot me as quick as they will a policeman," says McDonald, a trim man with a neat mustache and closely cropped gray hair. "They'll shoot a policeman as quick as they will any of their young gangbangers."

To defend himself, McDonald says, he needs a handgun. So, in April of 2008, the retired maintenance engineer agreed to serve as the lead plaintiff in a lawsuit challenging Chicago's 28-year-old handgun ban. Soon after, he walked into the Chicago Police Department and, as his attorneys had directed, applied for a .22-caliber Beretta pistol, setting the lawsuit into motion. When that case is argued before the U.S. Supreme Court on March 2, McDonald will become the public face of one of the most important Second Amendment cases in the nation's history.

Amid the clamor of the gun-rights debate, McDonald presents a strongly sympathetic figure: an elderly man who wants a gun to protect himself from the hoodlums preying upon his neighborhood. But the story of McDonald and his lawsuit is more complicated than its broad outlines might suggest. McDonald and three co-plaintiffs were carefully recruited by gun-rights groups attempting to shift the public perception of the Second Amendment as a white, rural Republican issue. McDonald, a Democrat and longtime hunter, jokes that he was chosen as lead plaintiff because he is African-American.

And no matter what the court and the public might make of his story or his case, legal experts say McDonald is poised to become an enduring symbol.

"Regardless of how this case goes, Mr. McDonald's name is set in legal history, at the same level as Roe v. Wade and Plessy v. Ferguson," said Nicholas Johnson, a law professor at Fordham University. "Schoolkids are going to recognize that in this case, something dramatic happened."

Just 19 months ago, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the Washington D.C., handgun ban in a landmark ruling that the Second Amendment protects an individual's right to own a firearm for self-defense. That decision, in District of Columbia v. Heller, was a result of years of work by libertarian advocates who in 2001 had spotted an intriguing 5th Circuit Court of Appeals decision that they believed opened a crack in decades of legal precedent.

Since the early 1900s, federal courts and most state courts had agreed that the Second Amendment protected only a collective right to bear arms, which, at the time the Constitution was framed, was considered integral to maintaining militias. But the 5th Circuit decision in United States v. Emerson bucked that precedent, ruling that the amendment protected an individual right: to possess a gun in the home for self-defense, for example. As the libertarian advocates had hoped, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed in the Heller case, handing down a historic decision that energized the gun-rights movement. But because Washington, D.C., is a federal district, the decision did not apply to states and other cities.

So, the battle shifted to Chicago, an obvious second front because the city's handgun ban was widely considered the strictest in the nation behind the Washington D.C., law. By early 2008, Alan Gura, the Virginia-based attorney who successfully argued the Heller case, had spread the word that he was looking for litigants in Chicago. Financed by the Second Amendment Foundation, a gun-rights group based in Bellevue, Wash., Gura interviewed about a dozen Chicagoans, first by phone and e-mail, and then in person.

His goal was to find a diverse group of individuals willing to represent the cause.

"You want good people who can tell the story well and in a way that the public can connect with," Gura said.

He eventually settled on four people: Adam Orlov, a white, 40-year-old libertarian who lives in Old Town and is a partner in an equity options trading firm; David Lawson, a white, 44-year-old software engineer who lives in Irving Park and keeps a collection of old guns outside the city; Lawson's wife, Colleen, a multiracial 51-year-old hypnotherapist who became interested in Second Amendment issues after an attempted burglary at the couple's home in 2006; and McDonald.

From the start, it was clear that McDonald had the most compelling story to tell. The son of Louisiana sharecroppers, he was 17 years old when he borrowed $18 from his mother and set off for Chicago in 1951, becoming one of millions of African-Americans who moved North during the Great Migration. McDonald settled in the city's Morgan Park neighborhood, had eight children and spent his career working at the University of Chicago, where he started as a janitor, worked his way up to become a maintenance engineer, and retired in 1997.

He became interested in gun rights about 2005, when Mayor Richard Daley was pushing a statewide ban on assault weapons. Concerned that his shotgun might be outlawed under the proposed ban, McDonald attended several gun-rights rallies in Springfield, where he says he was one of the few people from Chicago and, he notes with a laugh, probably the only black person.

At the rallies, he caught the eye of a Valinda Rowe, a gun-rights activist who works for IllinoisCarry.com, a group that favors the legalization of concealed and open carrying of weapons. When Rowe heard that Gura was looking for Chicago plaintiffs, she passed along McDonald's phone number.

In April, Gura flew to Chicago to meet with the four potential plaintiffs. Sitting around a long conference table at a Schiller Park law office borrowed for the occasion, the group talked about the case and exchanged their personal stories. Toward the end of the meeting, Gura suggested that McDonald become the lead plaintiff, a move that would mean the case would be named McDonald v. City of Chicago.

"Why would you name it after me?" McDonald remembers asking. "Is it just because I'm the only black?"

He meant the question as a joke. Nevertheless, McDonald had identified an important issue. Gun ownership is most common among middle-age, middle-class, white men who live in suburban or rural areas, according to a 2008 survey by the University of Chicago's National Opinion Research Center.

But gun-rights advocates want to frame the issue more broadly. In preparation for the Heller case, attorneys interviewed two to three dozen people, looking for diversity in terms of race, sex, age and income.

"We wanted to be able to present the best face not just to the court but also to the media," said Robert A. Levy, a lawyer who plotted strategy in the Heller case and who is now the chairman of the libertarian Cato Institute. Plaintiffs had to have a clean criminal background and a plausible reason to want a firearm for self-defense, Levy said, adding, "We didn't want some Montana militia man as the poster boy for the Second Amendment."

Read the rest (http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/chicago/ct-news-chicago-gun-ban-20100129,0,3152673.story) at the Tribune.

-Gene

CCWFacts
01-30-2010, 12:47 PM
One aspect of being a good civil rights attorney is picking good plaintiffs. Another thing that Gary Gorski should, but never will, learn or understand.

pullnshoot25
01-30-2010, 12:47 PM
Good article. First comments are from statist morons, as usual.

Jarhead4
01-30-2010, 12:58 PM
"Since the early 1900s, federal courts and most state courts had agreed that the Second Amendment protected only a collective right to bear arms, which, at the time the Constitution was framed, was considered integral to maintaining militias. But the 5th Circuit decision in United States v. Emerson bucked that precedent, ruling that the amendment protected an individual right: to possess a gun in the home for self-defense, for example."

I don't think this statement is true. It may be true for lower court rulings but not for Supreme Court rulings. Correct me if I'm wrong on this. I have a book called the "The Bill of Rights: Original Meaning and Current Understanding" by Eugene W. Hickok, Jr, published 1998. He states that the second amendment is an individual right, but it is not an unlimited right. Similar to the first amendment in that you can say what you want, but you can't yell fire in a crowded theater. This was published a decade before Heller even went to court.

Cokebottle
01-30-2010, 1:11 PM
the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the Washington D.C., handgun ban in a landmark ruling
I hate that term.

Nearly every time it is used, it is in reference to a judicial eff-up.

HowardW56
01-30-2010, 1:13 PM
Not a bad article...

Take the comments with a grain of salt...

Theseus
01-31-2010, 11:16 AM
You mean they couldn't find a way to paint what seems to be an upstanding person as an anti-government right wing extremist?

Other than the fact the guy is a democrat I can see nothing wrong with the man. :p

Meplat
01-31-2010, 12:19 PM
You mean they couldn't find a way to paint what seems to be an upstanding person as an anti-government right wing extremist?

Other than the fact the guy is a democrat I can see nothing wrong with the man. :p



In this context being a Dem is a plus. We can convert him later.;)

hoffmang
01-31-2010, 12:22 PM
You mean they couldn't find a way to paint what seems to be an upstanding person as an anti-government right wing extremist?


The Trib tried. That was all of their stuff about the lawsuits he's filed and won before. You can catch it subtly where she says a "police report alleged" which is an attempt to make people think that maybe it didn't happen. What's left out is that the police report was by Mr. McDonald's neighbor regarding Mr. McDonald's garage and the cops caught and charged a guy I believe.

-Gene

Cokebottle
01-31-2010, 12:31 PM
In this context being a Dem is a plus. We can convert him later.;)
Nonono.....

We can use him to support DINOs in the primaries! :D

Lagduf
01-31-2010, 12:59 PM
Not a bad article, though I agree with Gene that it's pretty clear they brought up his history of lawsuits in order to make him look like he was one of those frivolous lawsuit filers. Doesn't seem to be the case. Filing a lawsuit doesn't make you a bad guy, it makes you someone who cares about your rights.

I've seen a few articles like this talking about the specifics of the case but most of them from mainstream press don't seem to talk about the ramifications a ruling in McDonald's favor would have nationally with regard to RKBA. They just make it seem like Chicagoans will able to have guns again and that's it.

In this context being a Dem is a plus. We can convert him later.;)

To a Libertarian, right?

:P