Thursday, December 27, 2012

The strange birth of NY’s gun laws(Organized Crime Protection)

Recent months have seen a former Marine from Indiana, a Tea Party activist from California and a nurse from Tennessee all arrested and charged in New York City for possession of firearms they had legal permits to carry back home. All were “nabbed” when they naively sought to check the weapon with security.

These innocents fell afoul of the nation’s toughest gun laws. But few New Yorkers know how those laws came to be.

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.

New York Post

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