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The Law Blogger is a law-related blog that informs and discusses current matters of legal interest to readers of The Oakland Press and to consumers of legal services in the community. We hope readers will  find it entertaining but also informative. The Law Blogger does not, however, impart legal advice, as only attorneys are licensed to provide legal counsel.
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Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Second Amendment Litigant is Unlikely Handgun Advocate

Otis McDonald grew tired of the pattern of intimidation brought to bear upon him by some of the drug-dealing urban youth of his Chicagoland neighborhood.  At times, they would curse him and brandish their weapons just a few feet from his porch in Chicago's Morgan Park.  According to McDonald, some of these "punks" even threatened to "put him down."

Consequently, McDonald sought to even the odds by acquiring a gun, even if it meant he had to violate Chicago's anti-handgun ordinance to do it.

The 76-year old South-side Democrat, a retired grandfather and journeyman building engineer, who spent his career at the University of Chicago after serving in the military, is the petitioner in a case up for oral argument today at the United States Supreme Court.

An unlikely advocate for the right to "bear arms", at least in the organized sense, McDonald is not a card-carrying member of the NRA.  That group, however, will join him today in addressing the High Court and requesting that the handgun ban be struck down as unconstitutional.

This Blog has been tracking the case, as some of the high-crime issues underpinning Chicago's handgun ban are relevant to the communities of Southeast Michigan.  One of our earlier posts covered the lawyers arguing the case today.

There seems to be a consensus among legal professionals that Chicago's ordinance is likely to be declared unconstitutional.  Today, the City of Chicago, through it's retained Washington D.C. appellate lawyer, is expected to argue the safety interests such a ban serves in high-crime areas.

The consensus among High Court watchers that the handgun ordinance will be struck is based on the Court's recent decision striking-down a similar anti-gun law in the nation's capital.  The Supreme Court's decision in District of Columbia vs Heller, however, does not apply to the states since it arose in the District.

There are many reasons Americans feel a deep-rooted sense of righteousness when it comes to our right to possess and carry firearms.  It's in our historic genes; our national tradition.  Otis McDonald, on the other hand, acquired his taste for the right to bear arms out of good old-fashioned necessity.  In order to feel safe in his own crime-ridden neighborhood and to protect his family from local thugs, he armed himself in transgression of Chicago's gun ordinance.

As a result, Law Professor Nicholas Johnson of Fordham University claims that Otis McDonald will be immortalized as a litigant in one of the rare cases that becomes common knowledge among our citizenry and stands for a single proposition; in this case, the right to bear arms.

Local Connection:  Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox joined the NRA in filing an amicus brief in Otis McDonald's case.

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