Charlie: It’s no coincidence that two of the most prominent states with the toughest gun laws are also two of the states most deeply affected by the rise of organized crime in the first half of the 20th century and the cooperative political arrangements made between the street criminals and the Democratic party machines: Illinois and New York. As I wrote here, the Democrats — in their big-city manifestations, whence they derive their electoral power — are in effect a criminal organization masquerading as a political party. And, like any gangland racket, they seek to hinder competition by any means necessary.
New York City’s ultra-unconstitutional Sullivan Law was a gift to the Irish racketeers who dominated NYC politics for decades, in the period between the fall of Boss Tweed and the end of the Tammany Machine, which sputtered on into the 1950s, although a shadow of itself by then. Here’s a bit of the history:
The father of New York gun control was Democratic city pol “Big Tim “Sullivan — a state senator and Tammany Hall crook, a criminal overseer of the gangs of New York.
In 1911 — in the wake of a notorious Gramercy Park blueblood murder-suicide — Sullivan sponsored the Sullivan Act, which mandated police-issued licenses for handguns and made it a felony to carry an unlicensed concealed weapon.
This was the heyday of the pre-Prohibition gangs, roving bands of violent toughs who terrorized ethnic neighborhoods and often fought pitched battles with police. In 1903, the Battle of Rivington Street pitted a Jewish gang, the Eastmans, against the Italian Five Pointers. When the cops showed up, the two underworld armies joined forces and blasted away, resulting in three deaths and scores of injuries. The public was clamoring for action against the gangs.
Problem was the gangs worked for Tammany. The Democratic machine used them as shtarkers (sluggers), enforcing discipline at the polls and intimidating the opposition. Gang leaders like Monk Eastman were even employed as informal “sheriffs,” keeping their turf under Tammany control.
The Tammany Tiger needed to rein in the gangs without completely crippling them. Enter Big Tim with the perfect solution: Ostensibly disarm the gangs — and ordinary citizens, too — while still keeping them on the streets.
That way, of course, it was only the citizens who couldn’t fight back. And since many of the cops were in league with the gangsters, the looting of the cities could continue apace, as it does to this day. No wonder Chicago ain’t ready for reform.
The one and only.