Sullivan Act

Tim Sullivan, a major Irish criminal passed the Sullivan Act in 1911 to help his constituents rob strangers or to help them against Italian incomers. That is the crux of story that goes with a very early gun control law. Doctor Roberts, an honest man who was once a senior politician explains all at Gun Control - What Is The Agenda? 


Gun Control: What Is the Agenda?

by Paul Craig Roberts

Some years or decades ago I researched and reported on the Sullivan Act, one of America's first gun control laws.

New York state senator Timothy Sullivan, a corrupt Tammany Hall politician, represented New York's Red Hook district. Commercial travelers passing through the district would be relieved of their valuables by armed robbers. In order to protect themselves and their property, travelers armed themselves. This raised the risk of, and reduced the profit from, robbery. Sullivan's outlaw constituents demanded that Sullivan introduce a law that would prohibit concealed carry of pistols, blackjacks, and daggers, thus reducing the risk to robbers from armed victims.

The criminals, of course, were already breaking the law and had no intention of being deterred by the Sullivan Act from their business activity of armed robbery. Thus, the effect of the Sullivan Act was precisely what the criminals intended. It made their life of crime easier.

As the first successful gun control advocates were criminals, I have often wondered what agenda lies behind the well-organized and propagandistic gun control organizations and their donors and sponsors in the US today. The propaganda issued by these organizations consists of transparent lies.

Consider the propagandistic term, "gun violence," popularized by gun control advocates. This is a form of reification by which inanimate objects are imbued with the ability to act and to commit violence. Guns, of course, cannot be violent in themselves. Violence comes from people who use guns and a variety of other weapons, including fists, to commit violence.

Nevertheless, we hear incessantly the Orwellian Newspeak term, "gun violence."

Very few children are killed by firearm accidents compared to other causes of child deaths. Yet, gun control advocates have created the false impression that there is a national epidemic in accidental firearm deaths of children. In fact, the National MCH Center for Child Death Review, an organization that monitors causes of child deaths, reports that seven times more children die from drowning and five times more from suffocation than from firearm accidents. Yet we don't hear of "drowning violence," "swimming pool violence," "bathtub violence," or "suffocation violence."

The National MCH Center for Child Death Review reports that 174 children eighteen years old and under died from firearm accidents in 2000. The National Center for Injury Prevention and Control reports that 125 children eighteen years old and under died from firearm accidents in 2006. In 2006 there were 77,845,285 youths in that age bracket.

In 2006 violence-related firearm deaths of eighteen year olds and under totaled 2,191. A large percentage of these deaths appear to be teenagers fighting over drug turf.

According to the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, drugs are "one of the main factors leading to the total number of all homicides. . . . murders related to narcotics still rank as the fourth most documented murder circumstance out of 24 possible categories."

According to the National Drug Control Policy, trafficking in illicit drugs is associated with the commission of violent crimes for the following reasons: "competition for drug markets and customers, disputes and rip-offs among individuals involved in the illegal drug market, [and] the tendency toward violence of individuals who participate in drug trafficking." Another dimension of drug-related crime is "committing an offense to obtain money (or goods to sell to get money) to support drug use."

Obviously, decriminalizing drugs would be the greatest single factor in reducing incarceration rates, the crime rate, and the homicide rate. Yet, gun control advocates do not support this obvious solution to "gun violence."

Those who want to outlaw guns have not explained why it would be any more effective than outlawing drugs, alcohol, robbery, rape, and murder. All the crimes for which guns are used are already illegal, and they keep on occurring, just as they did before guns existed.

So what is the real agenda? Why do gun control advocates want to override the Second Amendment. Why do they not acknowledge that if the Second Amendment can be over-ridden, so can every other protection of civil liberty?

There are careful studies [ e.g. Self Defence In America - Ed. ] that conclude that armed citizens prevent one to two million crimes every year. Other studies show that in-home robberies, rapes, and assaults occur more frequently in jurisdictions that suffer from gun control ordinances. Other studies show that most states with right-to-carry laws have experienced a drop in crimes against persons.

Why do gun control advocates want to increase the crime rate in the US?

Why is the gun control agenda a propagandistic one draped in lies?

The NRA is the largest and best-known organization among the defenders of the Second Amendment. Yet, a case might be made that manufacturers' gun advertisements in the NRA's magazines stoke the hysteria of gun control advocates.

Full page ads offering civilian versions of weapons used by "America's elite warriors" in US Special Operations Command, SWAT, and by covert agents "who work in a dark world most of us can't even understand," are likely to scare the pants off people who are afraid of guns.

Many of the modern weapons are ugly as sin. Their appearance is threatening, unlike the beautiful lines of a Winchester lever action or single shot rifle, or a Colt single action revolver, or the WW II 45 caliber semi-automatic pistol, guns that do not have menacing appearances. Everyone knows that they are guns, but they are also works of art.

A little advertising discretion might go a long way in quieting fears that are manipulated by gun control advocates.

The same goes for hunters. Recent news reports of "hunters" slaughtering wolves from airplanes in Alaska and of a hunter, indeed, a poacher, who shot a protected rare wolf in the US Southwest and left the dead animal in the road, enrage people who have empathy with animals and wildlife. Many Americans have had such bad experiences with their fellow citizens that they regard their dogs and cats, and wildlife, as more intelligent and noble life forms than humans. Wild animals can be dangerous, but they are not evil.

Americans with empathy for animals are horrified by the television program that depicts hunters killing beautiful animals and the joy hunters experience in "harvesting" their prey. Many believe that a person who enjoys killing a deer because he has a marvelous rack of antlers might enjoy killing a person.

This is not a screed against hunters. There are many families with the tradition of bringing in the venison once or twice a year. With the near extermination by man of deer predators, deer are so abundant in many localities as to have become a nuisance and a danger to motorists. Nevertheless, the defense of gun rights has little to gain from TV programs depicting the fun of killing Bambi's mother.

In the US, shooting is a hand-eye coordination sport. It is likely that 99% of all ammunition is fired at paper targets, metal silhouettes, or clay and plastic discs. It is a sport for amateur physicists who are interested in ballistics and who experiment with different combinations of powder and bullet seeking the most accurate for their rifle or pistol. Few of these shooters hunt as their interest in shooting is unrelated to killing.

Shooting is a sport that offers comradeship and competition in which even old people can participate, people who do not or cannot play golf or tennis or bowl. There is a vast variety of events from black powder muskets to antique military and frontier weapons to distance shooting.

Sports shooters punching holes in paper targets comprise the vast majority of active gun owners. They are a threat to no one. Accidents are extremely rare at gun clubs. A large network of small businesses provide the parts and supplies necessary for shooting. There is no reason to strip gun owners of their hobby and possessions and family businesses of their livelihood, as has been done in Great Britain and as the gun control lobby intends to do in the US.

The NRA is correct to insist that "when guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns." We have known this since the Sullivan Act.

June 26, 2009

Paul Craig Roberts [send him mail] a former Assistant Secretary of the US Treasury and former associate editor of the Wall Street Journal, has been reporting shocking cases of prosecutorial abuse for two decades. A new edition of his book, The Tyranny of Good Intentions, co-authored with Lawrence Stratton, a documented account of how Americans lost the protection of law, has been released by Random House.

Copyright © 2009 Creators Syndicate

Mr. Reynolds
March 24, 2008, 05:56 PM
(First op-ed in a NY newspaper which brings up the history of the Sullivan Act.)

Big Tim Sullivan was a notorious Irish gangster whose mob controlled New York City south of 14th Street around the turn of the 20th century. Throwing in his lot with the likes of Monk Eastman, Paul Kelly and Arnold Rothstein, Sullivan became an expert on that dark nexus where organized crime and politics consummate their unholy alliance, and soon became an influential figure in the corrupt Democratic machine there known as Tammany Hall.

He made the relatively easy transition from dangerous street thug and political ward heeler to New York state senator first in 1894. He left Albany in 1903 for a term in the U.S. House of Representatives, and returned to the legislature in 1909 after complaining that he lacked the juice in Washington he'd grown accustomed to on his home turf.

In 1911, the Irish and Jewish mobsters who put him into office faced a growing problem -- the Italians. Immigrant Mafiosi newly arrived from Sicily and Naples were horning in on what had once been their exclusive domain. Gunfights on the Lower East Side and the neighborhood around Mulberry Street that was to become Little Italy grew more and more frequent, and it was getting so that you couldn't even shake down a barber shop or a greengrocer without some guy fresh off the boat taking a shot at you.

Not to worry, Big Tim told the boys. And in 1911, he took care of the problem.

The Sullivan Act was passed into law in New York state in 1911 and remains Big Tim's primary legacy. It effectively banned most people from owning and, especially, carrying handguns. Under the onerous conditions of the corrupted law, a peaceable citizen of sound mind could apply for a pistol permit, but if any of a number of elected or appointed officials objected to its issuance, he or she could be denied the license. The law remains in effect to this day and has been used as the basis for gun laws in many other states and municipalities.

One of those is Washington, D.C., which enacted its handgun law in 1973. Like the Sullivan law, it was written as a "may issue" permit statute, rather than the more common "must issue" permit statutes of many states. Under the "may issue" provision, a person can pass a police background check, take a gun safety course and jump through whatever other hoops the law requires, and still be turned down for a permit at the discretion of government officials.

Actual criminals, who have no problem breaking the laws against robbery, rape and murder, routinely ignore the absurd pistol-permitting process.

Last week, a challenge to the D.C. law wound up being argued before the United States Supreme Court. The case stemmed from a lawsuit filed by Dick Anthony Heller, 65, an armed security guard, who sued the district after it rejected his application to keep a handgun at his home for protection. A lower court threw the D.C. statute out, ruling it to be unreasonable and in violation of Heller's rights under the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The district appealed, and for the first time in our nation's history, the high court is preparing to rule on what the framers actually meant when they wrote the Second Amendment.

For many, that meaning has long been clear as glass: "A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed."

Two clauses that some smart editor might have made into two sentences -- the first of which calls for the establishment of a "well regulated militia," thought by most authorities to be the present National Guard, and the second, "the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed," which needs no interpretation at all. Beginning in the 1960s, however, left-leaning legal theorists and postmodern politicians began putting forth the notion that the Second Amendment had nothing to do with individual rights, that it instead was intended simply to make sure that the state-regulated militia members had guns. This ridiculous reading flew in the face of much that was written by Jefferson, Washington and the other men of action who bought our country's independence with blood and ink and gunpowder, but scant attention was paid.

Guns kill people, the revisionists said. We have the police to protect us, and the truths of 1776 have no place in 20th century society.

Big Tim Sullivan's law was mimeographed, retyped and copied out by hand, and sent around to state capitols and city halls around the country, where politicians -- primarily liberal Democrats -- took up his tainted cause.

The old gangster would have gotten a laugh had he lived to see the results of his crooked efforts. But a year after the Sullivan Act was passed in Albany, he went insane -- the result, it is said, of tertiary syphilis -- and was placed in a lunatic asylum. A year after that, he escaped, lay down on some railroad tracks up in the Bronx and was cut into three ragged pieces by a slow-moving freight train.

As a dyed-in-the-wool Democrat of nearly 35 years' standing, I never thought I'd say this, but thank goodness for Chief Justice John Roberts and Associate Justices Anthony Kennedy, Samuel Alito, Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas. They are the majority on the first high court in our nation's history to have the courage to tackle the Second Amendment issue head on.

And if the statements they made and the questions they asked last week as attorneys presented their oral arguments in the case are any indication, D.C. residents and those throughout the country may be liberated from the most outlandish and onerous gun control measures the states and cities have been able to pass in the four decades since the silly "Summer of Love" turned this great nation of ours on its head.

To begin with, the five justices clearly indicated that the "well regulated militia" clause is indeed separate from the "keep and bear arms" clause, and that alone is a huge step forward. How exactly they will rule on the specifics of the Washington law is less clear, but any easing of the restrictions it carries will represent a huge victory for gun owners everywhere.

Once the court sets its precedent, New York's Sullivan Act seems a likely next target for challenge by downtrodden gun owners whose rights have been violated for far too long.

Gun control has been a losing issue for Democrats for decades, and in national elections has cost them most of the western and southern states, as well as helping to create "swing states" out of such traditionally Democratic bastions as Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan and Florida.

If Sen. John McCain has any sense, he'll use the Republican-appointed Supreme Court majority's decision, which will be handed down well before November, as a major campaign issue, pointing to either Sen. Hillary Clinton's or Sen. Barack Obama's past anti-gun stances.

And if Clinton and Obama have any sense -- which, thus far, they haven't shown they have -- they will avoid the gun issue like the plague, zipping their lips and acknowledging the Supreme Court's mandate to interpret questions regarding the Constitution. If they don't, they'll be handing the election to the GOP on a silver platter.

Since its ratification by congress on September 21, 1789, the Second Amendment has never before been interpreted as to its actual meaning and intent by the Supreme Court.

Hopefully, once the justices have done the right thing by Jefferson, Washington, and the American people, the matter will not come up again for another 219 years, at least.


File:Larry Mulligan and Timothy Sullivan.jpg


Tim Sullivan ex Wiki
Timothy Daniel Sullivan
(July 23, 1862 – August 31, 1913) was a New York politician who controlled Manhattan's Bowery and Lower East Side districts as a prominent figure within Tammany Hall. He was euphemistically known as "Dry Dollar", as the "Big Feller", and, later, as "Big Tim" (because of his physical stature). During the late 19th and early 20th centuries, he controlled much of the city's criminal activities between 14th Street and the Battery in New York City. He is credited as being one of the earliest ward representatives to use his position to enable the activities of criminal street gangs.

Personal life
Born to Daniel O. Sullivan and Catherine Connelly (or Conley), immigrants from Kenmare, County Kerry, Ireland in the slum of Five Points. Daniel Sullivan, a Union veteran of the American Civil War, died of Typhus in October 1867 at the age of thirty-six leaving his wife to care for four children. Catherine remarried in 1870 to an immigrant, alcoholic laborer named Lawrence Mulligan, eventually having six more children.[1]

At the age of eight, Sullivan began shining shoes and selling newspapers on Park Row in lower Manhattan. By his mid-twenties, Sullivan was the part or full owner of six saloons which was the career of choice for an aspiring politician. Sullivan soon caught the attention of local politicians, notably Thomas "Fatty" Walsh, a prominent Tammany Hall ward leader and father of stage actress Blanche Walsh. In 1886, at the age of twenty-three, he was elected to the state Assembly in the old Third District.

That year, Sullivan had married Helen (née Fitzgerald). Gradually, he began building one of the most powerful political machines which controlled virtually all jobs and vice below 14th Street in Manhattan. His base of operation was his headquarters at 207 Bowery. By 1892, Tammany Hall leader Richard Croker appointed Sullivan leader of his assembly district of the Lower East Side.

Political career
Sullivan briefly served one term in the U.S. Congress from March 4, 1903 until his resignation on July 27, 1906. According to some accounts, Sullivan was dissatisfied with the graft and anonymity of political life in the Capitol prompting his resignation while remarking that "In NY, we use Congressmen for hitchin' posts."[2] He was later reelected to Congress in 1912, but due to ill health, never took his seat.[2] Instead, Big Tim chose to remain a state senator for most of his political career serving two terms in the New York State Senate from 1894 to 1903 and again from 1909 to 1912.

It could be said that Sullivan was one of the earliest political reformers and was aligned with women's rights activist Frances Perkins and sponsored legislation limiting the maximum number of hours women were forced to work; improving the conditions of stable and delivery horses and of course, gun control legislation euphemistically termed the Sullivan Law. [3]

Rise to power in Tammany Hall
Despite his political and criminal activities, Sullivan was undeniably a successful businessman involved in real estate, theatrical ventures (at one point partnering with Marcus Loew), boxing and horseracing.[4]

Along with various other Sullivans (Big Tim also branched out into popular amusement venues such as Dreamland in Coney Island, where he installed a distant relative, Dennis, as the political leader.[5] Sullivan, whose control extended to illegal prizefights through the National Athletic Club, influenced the New York State Legislature to legalize boxing in 1896 before ring deaths and other scandals caused the law's repeal four years later.

Among other laws he helped pass was the Sullivan Act, a state law that required a permit to carry or own a concealed weapon, which eventually became law on May 29, 1911. However, with many residents unable to afford the $3 registration fee issued by the corrupt New York Police Department and guaranteed his bodyguards could be legally armed while using the law against their political opponents.[6]

He was extremely popular among his constituents. In the hot summer months, tenement dwellers would be feted to steamboat excursions and picnics to College Point in Queens or New Jersey. In the winter months, the Sullivan machine doled out food, coal and clothing to his constituents. On the anniversary of his mother's birthday, February 6, Sullivan dispensed shoes to needy tenement dwellers. The annual Christmas Dinners were a particularly notable event covered in all of the city papers.[7] Although he had a loyal following, his involvement in organized crime and political protection of street gangs and vice districts would remain a source of controversy throughout his career.

Electoral Fraud
Sullivan was an expert in using electoral fraud to retain his power. People voted the way they were told to by him or they would be dealt with in an unpleasant manner. In 1892 when his pct went 395 to 4 for Grover Cleveland over Benjamin Harrison in the presidential election he said, "Harrison got one...more vote than I expected, but I'll find that feller!" His most common tactic, with no voter ID, was to use "repeaters." Here's how he described it, "When you've voted'em with their whiskers on you take'em to a barber and scrap off the chin-fringe. Then you vote'em again with side lilacs and a mustache. Then to a barber again, off comes the sides and you vote'em a third time with the mustache. If that ain't enough, and the box can stand a few more ballots, clean off the mustache and vote'em plain face. That makes every one of 'em good for four votes." (Rothstein by David Pietrusza. Pgs 53-55.)

Involvement in criminal activity
During the turn of the century, he would develop contacts with many influential figures including Monk Eastman, Paul Kelly, Arnold Rothstein and disgraced NYPD Lieutenant Charles Becker, who was able to attain the latter a high-ranking position on the New York police force in 1893.[8]

A close associate of Charles Francis Murphy, who succeeded the exiled Richard Croker as head of Tammany Hall in May 1902, the two forced corrupt police chief William Stephen Devery out of Tammany's Executive Committee as part of Murphy's campaign to eliminate any direct links between vice districts and Tammany Hall.

However, Sullivan was allowed to keep his kickbacks from the Lower East Side and Chinatown as a means of keeping him from becoming Murphy's political rival (he had used his considerable political influence from keeping Croker's reform group, the Committee of Five, out of the Bowery only two years before). In exchange, Sullivan would have to furnish gang leaders Monk Eastman and Paul Kelly, amongst others, to commit election fraud on behalf of Tammany Hall.[9]

At the time, it was widely known that Sullivan and his subordinates were active in a number of illegal activities including prostitution, gambling and extortion. A number of these revelations came to light in the New York State Lexow Committee hearings as well as through the investigations of the Rev. Charles Henry Parkhurst.[10]

Later years
Suffering from tertiary syphilis during his later years, his health continued to deteriorate until he was judged mentally incompetent and finally committed to a sanitarium in 1912. According to the Incompetency hearings, Sullivan elicited paranoid delusions, believed he was being spied upon and his food was being poisoned.[11]

After nearly a year, he managed to escape from his brother's house after eluding nurses on the early morning of August 31 (although other accounts claim he had escaped from orderlies after an all-night card game). Within a few hours, his body was found on the tracks in the Eastchester area of the Bronx, New York.

Sullivan's family did not report him missing for more than ten days, and his body was brought, and held, at the local Fordham morgue. Finally, after a fortnight, Sullivan was classified as a vagrant and scheduled for burial in Potter's Field despite his tailored clothing and "TDS" diamond monogrammed cufflinks.

Just before removal, his body was finally recognized by Police Officer Peter Purfield who was assigned to the morgue detail. (The New York Times later speculated that Sullivan might have been killed and placed on the tracks. In fact, the engineer of the train that struck Sullivan stated that he thought the body was already deceased. And, adding to the speculation of foul play, Thomas Reigelmann, the Bronx coroner and Tammany political appointee who signed the death certificate, failed to recognize the body of his long time friend despite the lack of trauma to the decedent's face.)[12]

Sullivan's wake was held at his clubhouse, located at 207 Bowery and over 25,000 people turned out for his funeral at St. Patrick's Old Cathedral, New York on Mott Street. He was interred at Calvary Cemetery, Queens, New York.[13]

For the next seven or eight years, there was a protracted battle over Sullivan's estate, which, by some estimates, ranged as high as $2.5 million. After creditors were satisfied, the bulk of the assets went to Sullivan's full siblings, Patrick H., Mary Anne, and half-brother, Lawrence Mulligan. (For several years after Big Tim's death, Patrick H. Sullivan, attempted to maintain his late brother's political and criminal clout. However, he proved to be an ineffectual leader and requitted himself from politics to pursue real estate ventures).[14]

Sullivan had one child with his wife Helen, a daughter who died in infancy. He did, however, father at least six illegitimate children, many with actresses affiliated with his theatrical ventures.[15]

In popular culture
He was portrayed by Joseph Sullivan in the 1914 silent film The Life of Big Tim Sullivan; Or, From Newsboy to Senator,[16] one of the earliest people to be the subject of a biographical film. He was also a main character in Kevin Baker's novel Dreamland, about life in turn-of-the-century New York, set in part in the Coney Island amusement park of the same name.[17]

Further reading