Saturday, January 30, 2010

Chicago grandfather plaintiff in Supreme Court case against city gun ban

Otis McDonald photographed outside of his Morgan Park home on Jan. 13, 2009, by Tribune photographer Scott Strazzante

To be entirely honest I do believe I should at least have a gun at home for my own self-defense. Thankfully I've never had the occasion to really need one. I'm elated to see that most of the Republican candidates for governor (sans Jim Ryan) believes that there should be concealed carry in this state. With reasonable restrictions I support that do because there are some people in the streets who would do harm to people.

Either way I'm going to have to hand it to this elderly gentleman who is fighting for his right to have a gun for his protection!
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."
"Don't they know people get shot in the ghetto?"

That was a common statement I would make when someone offers their opposition to guns. Such people may live in relatively safe communities and others may reside in violent communities as described in that excerpt.

I've never really thought about that statement, except to say that with or without gun control there is still gun violence in a crime ridden community. Over the years however my conclusion on this issue has been influenced by a point I have heard very often over time.

The point is that criminals have no intention of following the law. If they use a gun to rob people they're not suddenly going to stop using that gun all because possession of a gun is illegal. In addition to that keeping honest people away from guns may well make them only sitting targets for such criminals.

That consequence of gun control makes it troubling. It does sound like a good idea when you think about it, but it also assumes people will remain on the up and up and it doesn't always happen that way.

Not only that those who believe gun control is the answer to say inner-city violence is that all people can't be trusted with guns. Thus people will use the gun just because they have it whether to intimidate, to threaten or whenever they feel threatened, or  because of the thrill of it. Of course people like that well they will commit a crime soon enough and due-process will take their weapons away from them!

BTW, Alan Gura who successfully argued against the gun-ban in Washington, DC will be a part of the case against the Chicago gun-ban:
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.
You know I would like to suggest that you read this article and see why Mr. McDonald was chosen by Gura as the lead plaintiff in this case! The story is very interesting and compelling although this is one aspect of any gun-rights case that one should consider:
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."
Makes sense to me!

Read the whole thing!

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