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The NRA-ILA writes [ via]

Somewhere, Big Tim Sullivan might be laughing. Over 100 years after the enactment of New York City’s handgun licensing law (commonly referred to as the Sullivan Act), the measure is still working as the political boss intended. That is to say, it is ensuring that New Yorkers who are well-connected, either by status or more nefarious channels, are able to arm themselves with handguns, while average residents remain at the mercy of the criminal element . . .

It is important to make clear that the description of the corruption case that follows is a summary of allegations contained within a federal complaint, and that at this point none of the individuals alleged to be involved in the corruption case have been convicted.

On Sunday, authorities arrested Alex “Shaya” Lichtenstein on bribery and conspiracy charges relating to alleged efforts to bribe an NYPD officer in order to obtain handgun licenses, and previous successful attempts to do the same.

The arrest was part of a wide-ranging Federal probe into corruption at the NYPD. New York Police Commissioner Bill Bratton told the New York Post that the unfolding scandal is the worst for the department since the period surrounding the Knapp Commission in the early 1970s; an era of rampant corruption made famous in the film Serpico.

A complaint filed with the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York outlines Lichtenstein’s alleged license-purchasing scheme. According to the document, starting in 2014, Lichtenstein developed a relationship with a sergeant at the NYPD License Division with the authority to approve gun license applications, listed in the complaint as “Sergeant-1”. From an undetermined point in 2014 to early 2016, Lichtenstein frequented the License Division “on a nearly daily basis.”

The complaint notes that during this time period, Lichtenstein “charged his customers $18,000 per gun license” in exchange for his help in acquiring a handgun license. An officer who worked with Sergeant-1 and conducted investigations for the License Division told a federal investigator that Lichtenstein would provide him and Sergeant-1 with cash bribes he termed “lunch money,” consisting of “a hundred dollars.”

The complaint alleges that at some point in late 2015 or early 2016 the Commanding Officer of the License Division “banished” Lichtenstein from the License Division. Shut out from his connection within the License Division, in early April, Lichtenstein approached an NYPD officer outside the License Division and offered him a bribe for his assistance in acquiring handgun licenses. Rather than comply with Lichtenstein’s request, the officer reported the attempted bribery to the NYPD’s Internal Affairs Bureau.

Now working with the FBI and IAB, the officer agreed to meet with Lichtenstein while wearing a wire. During their conversation, Lichtenstein allegedly offered the officer $6,000 for each license the officer could help him acquire. Lichtenstein went on to tell the officer that in the last year he had helped individuals obtain 150 licenses and suggested to the officer that if he cooperated he could make $900,000. Lichtenstein also noted that he was engaged in the previous licensing arrangement “for the past year or two or three.”


The process of obtaining a handgun license in New York City is incredibly difficult. The application fee alone is $340.00, with an additional $89.75 charged as a fingerprinting fee. Applicants must submit to a lengthy application process that includes a personal interview.  

The Rules of the City of New York make clear that applicants can be denied on frivolous or nebulous grounds, including “a poor driving history,” “a lack of candor towards lawful authorities,” and the catch-all “other good cause for the denial of the license.” Another criteria for denial is “a history of one or more incidents of domestic violence.”

According to the complaint, Lichtenstein allegedly had little trouble bypassing these criteria, acquiring a handgun license for an individual who had “been involved in four car accidents; been arrested for forgery; received three vehicle-related summonses; received approximately ten moving violations; and had been the subject of at least four domestic violence complaints, including one in which he was accused of threatening to kill someone.”

While the breadth of Lichtenstein and his accomplices’ alleged scheme might shock some, it’s unlikely the nature of the crime will come as a surprise to gun rights supporters.

When the government has discretionary power over who may or may not obtain a license or permit to possess or carry a firearm, there is ample opportunity for official misconduct.

Notably, in addition to allowing for bribery and favoritism, discretionary licensing laws empower those with racial biases to deprive the targets of their bias from acquiring or carrying firearms.

In fact, there is evidence that part of the intent of the enactment of the Sullivan Law in 1911, which made it illegal to possess a handgun in one’s own home without a license, was to target disfavored minority groups. Others have suggested that Sullivan intended to wield the new law against his political enemies.

As we previously pointed out in this journal, authors Lee Kennett and James LaVerne explain in their book The Gun in America, part of which uses excerpts from a contemporary New York Tribune Article, the thinking of the time period:

It had long been held that pistols were found “chiefly in the pockets of ignorant and quarrelsome immigrants of lawbreaking propensities.” The Italian populations seemed particularly addicted to criminality (the Tribune’s annual index frequently crosslisted the entries “Crime” and “Italians”). As early as 1903 the authorities had begun to cancel pistol permits in the Italian sections of the city.

The authors later add,

Added to this rising concern was a disturbing and alien element. The public had always been sensitive to the dangers of armed minorities such as blacks and Indians, but this concern took on new dimensions as cities filled with unassimilated masses of immigrants from Southern and Eastern Europe…

May-issue firearms licensing, as vividly illustrated by New York City’s experience, offers the opportunity to indulge prejudices and engage in unscrupulous dealing. These are some of the reasons why NRA works tirelessly to limit government discretion in firearms licensing.

In this field, NRA’s greatest success has come with the Right-to-Carry revolution of the last three decades, which has seen shall-issue concealed carry permitting laws enacted in all but a handful of jurisdictions. NRA will continue to work to reform discretionary licensing procedures, until all law-abiding Americans can confidently and efficiently acquire the means of self-defense.


About the NRA-ILA:

Established in 1975, the Institute for Legislative Action (ILA) is the “lobbying” arm of the National Rifle Association of America. ILA is responsible for preserving the right of all law-abiding individuals in the legislative, political, and legal arenas, to purchase, possess and use firearms for legitimate purposes as guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

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  1. Just another example of WHY the founders put in the 2nd admendment. To shoot corrupt government workers/people like these.

    • RF, I think this guy is bad for your site in terms of search. Do you really want someone who advocates shooting government workers posting around here? It only serves to bolster the Left’s paranoia about gun owners…

        • Well, he is correct. “…being necessary to the security of a free state..” kind of implies the threat of violence against those who wish to enslave that state.

        • You would think that people that so strongly support the 2nd amendment, would also support the 1st amendment.

          But then, I am the stoopid1.

      • Well, such comments are part of the truth about guns, aren’t they? Let me ask you then, what was the 2A’s purpose as envisioned by the Framers?

      • Censoring for foul language or personal attacks seems fair, I think, to all. Unpopular opinions being censored will kill this site in a heartbeat. Site (sorry RF, sticking my nose in) is not about Koombayya, it’s about truth. Stoopid or 2asux may occasionally spit out a truism, otherwise we can ignore them (if there’s more than one).

    • One thing that resoundingly separates us from them is that we are even tempered and law abiding. We don’t threaten those with whom we do not agree. Comments like this serve no purpose other than to provide fodder for them.

      • Then why would you ever need a gun? Do you expect to reason with a rapist or banter with a home invader? No? How then could you talk your way out of tyranny?

        The writer above may have different criteria from yours, but fundamentally, the principle of shooting someone with whom you disagree holds, doesn’t it? It just depends on the topic.

        You think you’re taking the high road? Better double check your google maps.

        • There is a fundamental difference between a philosophical difference of opinion and responding to an eminent threat of physical harm or death. In the first case you become the aggressor in the second you are the defender.

      • This was clearly a heavily criminal activity which went on for years. If people in general found out about it, complained, voted, rioted, and were completely refused and abused by a dictatorial city government, and the state and federal government refused to act, Stoopid is exactly correct. It would then be time for a million illegally armed citizens to march downtown and murder the city government in toto, that is PRECISELY the intent of 2A, why is anyone criticizing Stoopid for saying so?

  2. “Yo, you need that concealed carry permit?”
    “Why yes, yes I do. ”
    “Well, for the price of a slightly used car, I’ll get you one.”

    • The messed up thing about this is that it’s not even about carry permits, but licenses to possess a handgun in the home (a right that even the most restrictive reading of the Second Amendment recognizes). Think about that for a moment. A New York City resident needs go through a process more intrusive, more time consuming, and more expensive than many of us would have to go through to get a carry permit, just to be able to buy a pistol or a revolver in the first place.

      NYC is truly sickening.

      • In CT, it’s all the same permit. It’s a little cheaper than NY, but it’s definitely over $200 for an application, and you need to permit to buy, possess or carry a handgun.

      • It’s not just NYC, but the entire state where this is the case. You can’t own or even USE a pistol legally in this state unless you have been approved by the government (the only exception is a minor shooting under the watch of an instructor). Even upstate, this proves can be burdensome. It took 15 months for my county to approve my pistol permit. And my permit isn’t even valid in NYC. This is insane.

  3. Funny, I haven’t heard much about the NRA trying to repeal the Sullivan Act.
    Or the SAFE act, for that matter.

    • Well they have great resources but those are not unlimited.

      But you’re right – instead of supporting the NRA let’s just make internet comments, that will teach the left.

      • You have no clue as to who, or how much, I support any organization.
        I’m totally fine with the NRA calling BS on New York’s permitting system. I have a NYS permit and it’s no good in NYC. But if they’re not doing anything about it, well, they’re just doing what I did… making comments on the internet…

        • That’s a fair response an no offense intended. I’m just tired of people (not you necessarily) who won’t join or support the NRA because of some minor thing or technicality. I know people the NRA sent them one too many mailings so now they have a bug up their *ss and won’t support the NRA. No organization is perfect but they do a lot of good. If you don’t like how they run things, join, write them letters, and vote for the board.

      • Well, to start they can stop sending me mail asking me for more money, and stop hiring people to call me and ask for money. They could turn this extra cash around, and fight some big fights, and make me proud to be a NRA member, who wants to send them more money. See how this works NRA?

    • You need to mention whether you live in NY after a comment like that. I live in TX, do not really hear a lot about NYC-only concerns. If you live in NYC, I would expect that you would, barring media interference.

  4. NYC gets what NYC wants. Who are we to decry what the overwhelming majority of NYC constituents apparently seem to want. The very same thing applies to NY as a whole. The majority of the state population is congregated in and about the city with about 40% upstate. Well, the majority keep electing anti-gun politicians and get the laws they apparently want. The NY SAFE ACT reportedly has a 90% non-compliance rate. That’s roughly 1.5 million newly minted felons. And what are the elected officials doing about them? Why aren’t they all in jail? It seems to me that these people don’t care about actually being safe, just “feeling” safe. They don’t care about fixing any of the real causes of crime, just writing useless laws and feeling good about them. Sooner or later it will all implode and their lies will be exposed to even the most blind. Until that time, I just don’t see the problem. If you live in NY and don’t like the way things are then you have two choices. Get involved and fix it or vote with your feet and move somewhere else.

    • NYC is a city. Cities don’t “want.” Only People do.

      People were given freedom by their Creator. No amount of idiots forming governments, drawing lottery tickets, rain dancing, voting nor engaging in any other retarded, made up ritual, are justified in tampering with that freedom. Even if every person in the entire US “voted” to ban you from owing guns, it would still remain your right to do so. And to defend that right with lethal force. Attempting to do the latter might not be the smartest thing to do tactically, as you vs 300 million is a bit lopsided. But it would be the correct thing to do ethically and morally.

    • “NYC gets what NYC wants. Who are we to decry what the overwhelming majority of NYC constituents apparently seem to want. “

      A Democracy ensures that the majority gets what they want.

      A Republic ensures that the minority’s rights are protected.

  5. If it werent for intentionally marginializing and disenfranchising huge swaths of the population we’d have hardly any laws at all. Without a way to make sure stupid people, poor people, dark people, loud people, mean people and kids who don’t sit at the cool table from doing stuff the pretty people like to do society would collapse.

  6. And the seasons they go round and round
    And the painted ponies go up and down
    We’re captive on the carousel of time
    We can’t return we can only look behind
    From where we came
    And go round and round and round
    In the circle game

    Read more: Joni Mitchell – Circle Game Lyrics | MetroLyrics

  7. I note that Sullivan Act did not stop those nefarious Italian and perfidious Jewish gangsters from acquiring the means to disposess the Irish of the monopoly on organized criminal activities.

  8. Eighteen grand in bribes for a pistol permit in NYC is a bargain.

    What do you think a building permit costs in the City That Never Sleeps?

  9. This is why the exercise of rights should not be left up to bureaucrats of the state. These permit laws are blatantly unconstitutional. If I have to ask for permission, you are infringing on the right.

  10. There’s nothing new about corrupt officials and the “may issue” pistol permit system of New York. About a dozen of the hoodlums rounded up at the Apalachin “crime convention” had permits.
    “Joe the Barber” Barbara, the host of that top management meeting, had a character reference from a local police chief as part of his application.
    It is time to declare all “may issue” permit systems unconstitutional.

  11. NRA-ILA: New York City Has One Gun Law for the Rich, Another for the Poor

    I knew the NRA can be a little slow moving at times, but DAMN. Where have they been for the last 50 years?

  12. The comment above is inappropriate.
    The 2A is not in place to allow you to shoot corrupt govt officials.
    In America corrupt govt officials go through due process and jail time. Or get reelected. 🙂

  13. Wonder how many permits are issued each year?
    If one man was in the office “almost daily” just how many of these permits are corrupt? Using the $900,000 in potential in brides translates to 150 permits.

    Either there’s a lot of permits being issued, or the corruption in that office is unbelievable.

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