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
NRA-ILA Backed Lawsuit Filed Challenging Oregon Measure 114

Thursday, December 1, 2022

NRA-ILA Backed Lawsuit Filed Challenging Oregon Measure 114

Today an NRA-backed lawsuit was filed challenging Ballot Measure 114, which voters passed by a slim margin last month. Measure 114 creates a falsely labeled “permit to purchase” a firearm requirement and bans standard capacity magazines, which it ...

Recent ATF Action Shows Need for Suppressor Reform

News  

Monday, March 14, 2022

Recent ATF Action Shows Need for Suppressor Reform

As we reported last week, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (“ATF”) denied approximately 850 Form 1 applications for prospective makers of suppressors on February 28. These denials were apparently made due to ...

NY AG James Sends Threatening Letter to Ammunition Sellers

News  

Monday, November 21, 2022

NY AG James Sends Threatening Letter to Ammunition Sellers

In a move that surprised absolutely nobody, anti-gun New York Attorney General Letitia James (D) announced last week that she would expand her assault on the Second Amendment by targeting ammunition sellers. AG James claimed, ...

Colorado: Broomfield City Moves to Adopt Gun Control Package to Diminish Second Amendment Rights!

Thursday, December 1, 2022

Colorado: Broomfield City Moves to Adopt Gun Control Package to Diminish Second Amendment Rights!

Earlier this week, Broomfield City Council advanced a gun control package to impose on law-abiding citizens.  The second reading will be held in January.  In truth, none of the slew of regulations will stop criminals ...

Maryland: Montgomery County Passes Carry Restrictions

Wednesday, November 16, 2022

Maryland: Montgomery County Passes Carry Restrictions

Maryland’s most anti-gun county has continued its tantrum, lashing out against lawful carry in the only way it thinks it can. Yesterday, the Montgomery County Council voted unanimously to pass Bill 21-22E, to remove the exemption ...

Public Lands Lawsuit Settled—All Lands Remain Open to Hunting

Thursday, December 1, 2022

Public Lands Lawsuit Settled—All Lands Remain Open to Hunting

In 2020, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service expanded hunting and fishing opportunities on more than 2.3 million acres of land. That decision was challenged in federal court, and the NRA, Safari Club International, Sportsmen’s ...

NRA Achieves Historical Milestone as 25 States Recognize Constitutional Carry

News  

Friday, April 1, 2022

NRA Achieves Historical Milestone as 25 States Recognize Constitutional Carry

Half the country will now enjoy the freedom to carry a handgun for self-defense without a permit from the state thanks to the tireless efforts of men and women of the National Rifle Association. 

ATF Mass Denial of Suppressor Form 1 Applications

News  

Monday, March 7, 2022

ATF Mass Denial of Suppressor Form 1 Applications

On February 28, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (“ATF”) denied approximately 850 Form 1 applications for prospective makers of suppressors. These denials were apparently made due to a change in ATF policy ...

Ohio: Emergency Powers Bill Advances to House Floor

Thursday, December 1, 2022

Ohio: Emergency Powers Bill Advances to House Floor

Today, the House Government Oversight committee voted 8-5 to pass Senate Bill 185, to guarantee that Second Amendment rights remain protected during emergencies. It will now go to the House floor for further consideration.

Hawaii: Honolulu Seeks to Severely Restrict Carry

Monday, November 28, 2022

Hawaii: Honolulu Seeks to Severely Restrict Carry

Tomorrow, Tuesday, November 29th, the Honolulu City Council will hear an ordinance to prohibit citizens from exercising their right-to-carry in many places. This is an attempt to ignore the U.S. Supreme Court’s NYSRPA v. Bruen ...

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.