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Timothy_Sullivan (courtesy

After the American Revolutionary War, New York legislators didn’t include gun rights in their state constitution. They considered firearms freedom too obvious to include. And any legal protection redundant, thanks to the U.S. Constitution’s Second Amendment. And so it was — until 1911. That’s when the Empire State legislature passed the infamous Sullivan Act to protect organized crime from armed citizens . . .

“Big Tim” Sullivan created and pushed the law through the legislature. Sullivan, a crime syndicate leader, was a member of the corrupt Democratic political organization known as Tammany Hall. Sullivan’s toughs had complained about immigrants resisting their extortion efforts. Big Tim had a simple solution: make it illegal for his opposition to legally have or carry weapons. From the New York Post:

Sullivan knew the gangs would flout the law, but appearances were more important than results. Young toughs took to sewing the pockets of their coats shut, so that cops couldn’t plant firearms on them, and many gangsters stashed their weapons inside their girlfriends’ “bird cages” — wire-mesh fashion contraptions around which women would wind their hair.

Ordinary citizens, on the other hand, were disarmed, which solved another problem: gangsters had been bitterly complaining to Tammany that their victims sometimes shot back at them.

So gang violence didn’t drop under the Sullivan Act — and really took off after the passage of Prohibition in 1920. Spectacular gangland rubouts — like the 1932 machine-gunning of “Mad Dog” Coll in a drugstore phone booth on 23rd Street — became the norm.

The police in large cities were corrupt enforcers for their political bosses. [ED: le plus ça change . . .] With the Sullivan Act, Big Tim ensured that his forces could legally disarm any opposition. Here’s a description of the policing of the era, and why Big Tim could be reliably assured the police would hand out gun permits only to those of whom he approved. From  History of the Police:

Politicians were able to maintain their control over police agencies, as they had a direct hand in choosing the police chiefs that would run the agencies. The appointment to the position of police chief came with a price. By accepting the position, police chiefs had little control over decision making that would impact their employees and agencies.

Many police chiefs did not accept the strong political presence in their agencies, and as a result, the turnover rate for chiefs of police at this time was very high. For example, “Cincinnati went through seven chiefs between 1878 and 1886; Buffalo (NY) tried eight between 1879 and 1894; Chicago saw nine come and go between 1879 and 1897; and Los Angeles changed heads thirteen times between 1879 and 1889.”

Politics also heavily influenced the hiring and promotion of patrol officers. In order to secure a position as a patrol officer in New York City, the going rate was $300, while officers in San Francisco were required to pay $400. In regard to promoted positions, the going rate in New York City for a sergeant’s position was $1,600, and it was $12,000 to $15,000 for a position as captain.

Upon being hired, policemen were also expected to contribute a portion of their salary to support the dominant political party. Political bosses had control over nearly every position within police agencies during this era.

New York has long been a center of immigration. Political bosses “taught” people who came to America without any tradition of freedom that they don’t have a right to keep and bear arms — the antithesis of American constitutional government.

This reinforced the understanding immigrants brought from their country of origin. With a hundred years of this policy in place, and millions of immigrants and their offspring experiencing a city without the Second Amendment, the “tradition” continues. With some 25 percent of New Yorkers hailing from abroad, the Sullivan Act’s legacy lives on.

Police in large cities remain creatures of their political backers. In spite of reforms — requirements for training, police unions and state wide police standards — police chiefs still serve at the pleasure of the City Council or Mayor. They are not independent actors, but are acting on the desires of their bosses. Their bosses are city politicians, not the people.

Surprisingly, some modern commentators celebrate the political corruption of large cites as necessary for efficient city administration. Walter Russell Mead at made the dubious claim at

All right thinking Americans united in the 19th century to deplore the malign influence of corrupt big city political machines, but it is hard to think how else the tens of millions of immigrants streaming into those cities from all over the world could have learned to govern themselves and begin the process of integration into American life.

Lipstick on a pig. London had intense immigration during the same period. Its police were a model of legitimacy. Anyway, Mr. Mead wrote the above in a glowing endorsement of the corrupt political machine that the Clintons put together, making a case for what he calls “honest graft.”

Suffice it to say two of the three chief engineers of the recent “SAFE” act have been found guilty of corruption. The history of New York City has been a history of corruption and a disregard of the Constitution for a hundred years. A culture that continues to deprive New Yorkers of their natural, civil and Constitutionally protected right to keep and bear arms. Leaving them ignorant — and defenseless.

©2016by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice and link are included.
Link to Gun Watch

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  1. Yes. We know. But now the anti gunner movement has spread world wide. It is supported by the media and transcends conservative and liberal political boundaries in most industrialized countries. What is the current uniting force to disarm the civilized world?

  2. Now, by no measure am I good-looking guy. (My cat would disagree.)

    But Holy Crap, that is one Fugly woman…

    • I doubt Big Tim was home enough to notice. This is my home state and why our county Sheriff’s are our main support by nearly totally rejecting the Safe Act. Troopers not so much.

        • Not all of them. Maybe it depends on the area, but all the Southern Teir troopers I know are very pro-2a and own tons of guns.

    • Yeah, they really need to take any pictures of Hillary out of the ad rotation…

    • Wow I didn’t even see her… it’s like my mind put a blank over her until you pointed her out.

      And won’t be thanking you for that either

  3. I will never spend one cent in that piece of shit state. This is one why I don’t buy kimbers.

  4. Interesting history. I always wondered how such a large city became such a festering pile of shit.

    • We should have known. It started out as a small pile of shit and grew into it’s current size. It would be damn near impossible to roll into a city of a million+ free, liberty loving citizens and try corrupting all of them. But if you start out small enough…

  5. … and a poor immigrant named Marino Rivera was the Sullivan Act’s first victim. Packing heat on his way to work after getting robbed a few times. Of course nobody cared about an Italian immigrant back then.

  6. OK so we see nothing has changed in NYC for a century +.
    So whats the story then??

  7. Ah, Sullivan, we hardly knew ye. Never did a man so deserve the end he got (institutionalized for syphilitic psychosis which he likely suffered from while writing the Sullivan Act, he either escaped or was kidnapped, to be found dead on/across/all over train tracks at a local rail yard, and nearly made it into a Potter’s Field as a nameless vagrant had a random policemen not recognized his mug, despite Sullivan being friends with the coroner & without facial damage)

  8. “Ordinary citizens, on the other hand, were disarmed, which solved another problem: gangsters had been bitterly complaining to Tammany that their victims sometimes shot back at them.”

    I live in Honolulu, HI. This is exactly what happens here. This is why we have all these illegal requirements by the state on gun ownership and defensive use.

    Wherever organized crime and corruption is entrenched in the government, there will be extensive restrictions on weapons, and self defense in general. There will be a massive network of murderers, rapists and frauds being used to do things the guys with badges, secret handshakes and alphabet soup titles don’t want to get caught doing.

    In the NY case, it is thugs. In Hawaii’s case, it is statist provincial idiots protecting meth and child trafficking. In parts of the mainland, you have the Klan and communist radicals, etc. Always just the local flavor of controllable violent, murderous rapists who will do anything if they think they can run behind someone to fight for them when their victims are able to protect themselves.

    PROTIP: They like to watch people on the toilet and attack them with some sort of sexualized theme. Especially younger men. In Hawaii, it is a local pastime since the plantation days, did they ever end?

    • “Wherever organized crime and corruption is entrenched in the government”

      They are the same thing. 100%. Full stop. Widespread failure to realize this, is why we still suffer under the scum.

  9. “Suffice it to say two of the three chief engineers of the recent “SAFE” act have been found guilty of corruption so far“. I am starting to like ol ‘Preet.

    Fixed it for you.

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