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.
The article describes at length the process whereby McDonald was selected to be the "poster boy" of the NRA-funded lawsuit. He is sympathetic. And I find no fault in lawyers trying to make their case as attractive as possible. But what I question is the concept itself.
Does anyone believe that Mr. McDonald will be able to defend himself against cold-blooded teenage killers if only he'd be permitted to carry a gun? I don't. He's an older man, with an older man's reflexes, who presumably is not a cold-blooded killer, who will be outnumbered every time he steps out of the house. Is a gun going to help?
Wouldn't having a gun in the situations he described actually have been a liability? Instead of having experienced a number of threats and incidents of intimidation, if he'd shown a gun, he'd most likely have been killed.
So, my conclusion is that although Mr. McDonald is a sympathetic figure-head for the Chicago gun movement, he's a poor example of the need for gun rights. A gun will not help his chances of survival, it will hurt them. Meanwhile, next time his house is burgled, the thieves may very well steal handguns as well as shotguns.
What's needed in Chicago and many places is fewer guns not more. Only by diminishing the total number of guns in America, as well as tightening up the gun control laws, do we stand a chance of diminishing gun crime.
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