Repeal The SAFE Act? Try The Sullivan Act Instead

What’s the big deal regarding the SAFE Act? I mean really. All those gun fanatics act like it’s the end of the world. Is it not for our own good? Isn’t being able to own non-assault style firearms and carry a handgun enough? In New York state all you have to do is apply for your pistol permit and you’re good to goright? Well

In the late 1800’s, a New York politician/Senator, Timothy Daniel Sullivan, a gang thug and heeler (not the get well soon kind either) was known for his control of criminal activity in the notorious Manhattan Bowery, and between 14th Street and the Battery in NYC and a prominent figure in the highly corrupt Democratic political machine known as Tammany Hall. He was credited for using his political situation to enable gang street crime, an extremely profitable enterprise. Corruption in NYC at the time extended to many key areas – law enforcement, city government, and the courts to name a few.

Eventually, Irish and Jewish mobsters, who helped put Sullivan into office, were having a major problem with Italian factions infringing on what used to be exclusive territory. Gunfights in what is now known as “little Italy” became frequent, increasing the criminals’ risk, simultaneously decreasing profit while conducting “business.” Add to this people traveling though the district, previously being relieved of valuables, were now arming themselves making the gang’s activity even more risky. Following the blue-blood murder suicide in Gramercy Park, political pressure mounted for passing legislation preventing sale of pistols to “irresponsible persons.” Obviously another example of government knowing better what is good for us or maybe never let a crisis go to waste? Just asking.

The Sullivan Act went into effect Aug, 31, 1911, Tim Sullivan being a major sponsor. The Sullivan Act made it illegal to possess/carry a handgun without a permit. It made possession or carrying weapons such as brass knuckles, sandbags, blackjacks, bludgeons or bombs a felony, as was possessing or carrying a dagger, “dangerous knife” (as opposed to a “safe knife”) or razor “with intent to use the same unlawfully.” I wonder, was the term “brass knuckle or sandbag violence” used as a point to help pass this legislation? Would this be the same as the assault criteria dictated to us by our beloved state officials? Sorry, I digress.

So let’s take a look at this. Remembering the rampant government corruption at the time, a well-documented political thug, law-abiding people protecting themselves, and rival mobsters impacting his rule and profit. If you were a powerful corrupt politician wanting to further your “enterprise” under the guise of protecting the people from crime, but wanting to prevent those same people from impacting your business, law abiding or otherwise, you are in corrupt collusion with high-ranking city officials, might you have the ability to influence the issuing of concealed carry permits? Sullivan Act qualifies as a “may issue” act, meaning local law enforcement has discretion in issuing a concealed carry license, opposed to a shall issue, which state authorities must grant a concealed handgun license to any person who satisfies specific criteria, often a background check and safety class. Would having influence on who is granted a permit have impact on your ability to do business with less retaliation? I have to ask myself if any of Big Tim’s “associates” submitted their pistol permit application or attended a safety class. Background check anyone?

Consider this; the Sullivan Act was sponsored and passed to protect those involved in wholesale crime. By some accounts its very design was to prevent those from interfering in its perpetuation and protect the perpetrators. A $3.00 permit, at the time, was not affordable to most people further limiting permits issued to most law abiding people. Think about the requirements to submit your application. Submit personal information, occupation, workplace, height, weight, and eye color to start. You may not have a single traffic ticket yet involve other people to vouch for your character. You are fingerprinted wait who else gets fingerprinted? The SAFE Act doesn’t require fingerprinting. You are investigated and data collected by law enforcement on the local and state level. You must attend a pistol safety class. Not against this, just another mandatory hoop to jump through. You must be photographed photographed who else gets photographed? SAFE Act doesn’t require that. What’s fascinating to me as a result of the SAFE Act, people en-masse applied for their pistol permit, willingly! I’m still scratching my head on this.

Possess a pistol permit? You can thank a New York City thug turned corrupt politician for the privilege revocable at any time, of carrying concealed. To know the very law making it possible for you to carry was originally, and for the most part, to allow crime to continue with little resistance. I have to wonder, what law we should be trying to appeal.

Charles Dole is a Jamestown