Monday, June 28, 2010

Otis McDonald, American Hero

Supreme Court rules in favor of gun-owners
by Robert A. Waters

"It is clear that the Framers...counted the right to keep and bear arms among those fundamental rights necessary to our system of ordered liberty." Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr., McDonald vs. City of Chicago, June 28, 2010.

Otis McDonald was born the son of a sharecropper in the rural South. He served in the army before settling in Chicago where he worked for thirty years, first as a janitor and later as a maintenance engineer for the University of Chicago. After retiring, his once-comfortable Morgan Park neighborhood became a run-down, drug-infested disaster. McDonald’s home has been broken into three times, his garage twice. In attempting to rid his neighborhood of drugs, the husband and father of three has been threatened on several occasions. His outrage at a system which would not allow him the right to use a handgun to defend himself caused him to take his case to the United States Supreme Court.

In addition to McDonald, co-plaintiffs Adam Orlov, as well as David and Colleen Lawson, joined the Second Amendment Foundation and the Illinois State Rifle Association in bringing the lawsuit. Orlov, a former police officer, is unable to keep a handgun in his own home. David Lawson works out of town and his wife, Colleen, wishes to keep a handgun in their house for protection. None of the plaintiffs have criminal records--all are law-abiding citizens who only want to be able to defend themselves if necessary.

In McDonald v. City of Chicago, the court ruled 5-4 that the constitutional right to keep and bear arms protects all citizens, regardless of whether they reside in a federal enclave, state, or municipality. “It is clear,” wrote Justice Alito for the majority, “[that] a provision in the Bill of Rights that protects a right that is fundamental from an American perspective applies equally to the federal government and the states."

The decision extends the 2008 District of Columbia v. Heller ruling in which the court decided that the right to keep and bear arms referred to an individual right.

Chicago will no doubt continue to find ways to deny its citizens the right granted by the Constitution. There is already talk of massive taxes on any handgun in the city owned by Chicagoans. (In the Heller case, the District of Columbia has re-structured its laws so that it is still nearly impossible for law-abiding citizens to obtain a license to own a firearm.) In fact, after today's decision, Chicago City Attorney Mara Georges said, "I would urge anyone buying a gun at this time to wait.”

The razor-thin margin of victory in these cases is disheartening. Even a cursory reading of the documents from the founding fathers makes it clear that the Framers intended for American citizens to have access to firearms. And the meaning of the Second Amendment is plain. So when four justices twist and distort the true meaning of the Constitution, it doesn’t bode well for our future.

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