Explore The NRA Universe Of Websites

APPEARS IN News

A Freedom Fighter to Never Forget: Otis McDonald (1933-2014)

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

 

History books are written by the winners and, if we’re successful at protecting the right to keep and bear arms for future generations, the civil rights chapters of the history books that future generations will read will tell the story of Otis McDonald. The longtime Chicago resident, who passed away in April, was the lead plaintiff in McDonald v. City of Chicago, one of the most important Second Amendment cases ever decided by the Supreme Court.

McDonald, born to Louisiana sharecroppers in 1933, was an Army veteran, a father of eight and a grandfather. He didn’t finish high school, but he worked hard, earned a college degree and retired after a 32-year career at the University of Chicago. As an African-American climbing the professional ladder in the University’s building engineering department, he learned the value of perseverance.

That lesson paid dividends in McDonald’s legal battle against the Chicago political machine’s decades-long suppression of the right of law-abiding Americans to keep and bear handguns for protection. McDonald filed his challenge to Chicago’s handgun ban in 2008, after the Supreme Court issued its decision in District of Columbia v. Heller, which struck down the District’s handgun ban and its ban on having a firearm assembled into functional condition within the home.

The Heller decision also prohibited Congress and federal territories from imposing laws like those it overturned in the District. However, it didn’t apply to gun control laws imposed by states or local jurisdictions within them. The decision benefitted the half million residents of the nation’s capital, but McDonald and other residents of his neighborhood were still helpless against robbers, home invaders and other lowlifes that were preying on good Americans who had been rendered defenseless by a law that gun control supporters had tried to get imposed nationwide.

McDonald edged closer to action as his once-peaceful South Chicago neighborhood began to deteriorate at the hands of drug dealers, burglars and street thugs. He made his decision to challenge Chicago’s handgun ban after three punks blocked his car and threatened him. “I was not going to back down from a situation because of fear. …
I’m not built like that,” he said.

McDonald understood the heavy price of freedom, and he knew that Chicago’s handgun ban amounted to a modern-day version of the 18th and 19th centuries’ “slave codes” and “black codes” that prohibited African-Americans from being armed. “There was a wrong done a long time ago that dates back to slavery time,” he said. “I could feel the spirit of those people running through me as I sat in the Supreme Court.”

McDonald also knew that the Heller decision had not invented a “right to keep and bear arms” out of thin air, as claimed by gun control supporters. One of the earliest Supreme Court cases to consider the meaning of the Second Amendment had also involved African-Americans possessing firearms for protection. In U.S. v. Cruikshank, decided in 1876, the high court made clear that the Second Amendment did not create an individual right to keep and bear arms, but rather protected it against federal interference.

In 1939, in U.S. v. Miller, the Court recognized that Americans have a right to arms that have “some reasonable relationship to the preservation or
efficiency of a well regulated militia,” that are “part of the ordinary military equipment,” or that the use of which
“could contribute to the common defense.”

The Court cited both of these earlier decisions in its Heller ruling.

In McDonald v. Chicago, the Court extended the Second Amendment’s protection of the right to arms
through the Due Process Clause of the 14th Amendment, which provides [that] ‘No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”

The adoption of the 14th Amendment was due in part to efforts by some states to disarm newly freed African-Americans after the Civil War. More than 140 years later, an African-American of great courage gave the nation’s highest court the opportunity to apply the 14th Amendment to advance one of its original goals, benefitting all Americans.

The greatest tribute that we could give to McDonald is to make sure that his achievement stands in perpetuity, and that the right to arms remains secure for future generations of Americans. Let that be our pledge, as Election Day 2014 nears.

TRENDING NOW
NYSRPA Case Exposes Biden’s Anti-Second Amendment Bias, Vindicates Opposition to Garland

News  

Monday, October 18, 2021

NYSRPA Case Exposes Biden’s Anti-Second Amendment Bias, Vindicates Opposition to Garland

Further evidence of Joe Biden and Attorney General Merrick Garland’s contempt for the Second Amendment has emerged in recent weeks.

The View Doesn’t Appreciate a Right

News  

Monday, October 18, 2021

The View Doesn’t Appreciate a Right

Women, and especially black women, are increasingly buying firearms for self-defense. This reality did not sit well with the hosts of a somehow still-running daytime talk show.

Virginia: Terry McAuliffe Wants to Ban Guns, Register Gun Owners, and Restrict Carry

News  

Monday, October 18, 2021

Virginia: Terry McAuliffe Wants to Ban Guns, Register Gun Owners, and Restrict Carry

Virginians are increasingly exercising their Second Amendment rights. NICS Checks in the commonwealth were up more than 60-percent from 2019 to 2020. From 2019 to 2021 there was a 21-percent increase in the number of ...

Final Brief Filed in Key Second Amendment Case Before Supreme Court of the United States

Friday, October 15, 2021

Final Brief Filed in Key Second Amendment Case Before Supreme Court of the United States

The final reply brief has been filed in the NRA-ILA-supported case challenging New York’s restrictive concealed-carry-licensing regime. This was the final filing before the Supreme Court hears oral arguments on November 3rd.

The Year of the Gun – Record Number of Carry Permits in 2020

News  

Monday, October 18, 2021

The Year of the Gun – Record Number of Carry Permits in 2020

Last year was one for the record books. Not only did gun sales climb to unprecedented highs, but 40 percent of all purchasers were first-time gun buyers, estimated to be some 8.4 million people.

Biden Administration Bans Importation of Russian Ammunition

News  

Sunday, August 22, 2021

Biden Administration Bans Importation of Russian Ammunition

The Biden Administration’s Department of State announced that it will soon prohibit the importation of Russian ammunition into the United States. According to a release on the Department of State’s website, “[n]ew and pending permit applications ...

Anti-gunners Launch Campaign to Intimidate U.S. Supreme Court as Second Amendment Case Looms

News  

Monday, October 11, 2021

Anti-gunners Launch Campaign to Intimidate U.S. Supreme Court as Second Amendment Case Looms

For many decades, gun control proponents who saw their fortunes wane in legislatures from coast to coast and who were unable to get traction with Congress could at least console themselves with the thought that ...

Guide To The Interstate Transportation Of Firearms

Gun Laws  

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Guide To The Interstate Transportation Of Firearms

CAUTION: Federal and state firearms laws are subject to frequent change. This summary is not to be considered as legal advice or a restatement of law.

DOJ Releases Biden Gun Confiscation Order Legislation

News  

Wednesday, June 9, 2021

DOJ Releases Biden Gun Confiscation Order Legislation

DOJ has made clear that Garland’s selective definition of “civil rights” has no room for the Second Amendment...

California: Governor Newsom Signs Legislation Adding More Restrictions to Gun Shows

Monday, October 11, 2021

California: Governor Newsom Signs Legislation Adding More Restrictions to Gun Shows

Despite lawful gun ownership and gun shows already being highly regulated by California law, Governor Gavin Newsom once again signed legislation targeting law-abiding citizens, while doing nothing to address violent crime. On October 8th, he ...

MORE TRENDING +
LESS TRENDING -

More Like This From Around The NRA

NRA ILA

Established in 1975, the Institute for Legislative Action (ILA) is the "lobbying" arm of the National Rifle Association of America. ILA is responsible for preserving the right of all law-abiding individuals in the legislative, political, and legal arenas, to purchase, possess and use firearms for legitimate purposes as guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.