Saturday, June 9, 2012

Reading Room: 'Why Not Have A Pro-Gun Law?'

Guns magazine, which I've brought into KintlaLake Blog many times, produced its first issue in 1955. I find its evolution interesting, in part because it's been around almost exactly as long as I have.

Guns was marking its second year (and I my second month) when it published "Why Not Have a PRO-Gun Law?" by William B. Edwards. This is how the piece was previewed in the editors' up-front column:
"'Why Not Have A Pro-Gun Law,' is possibly the longest article we have ever published. It may well be also the most important article we have ever published. The 'call to arms' which ends the story, urging all firearms enthusiasts to write to the Director of the [BATFE], to protest new revised federal regulations in the gun law field is a little like Paul Revere's 'one if by land, two if by sea.' Only now it isn't the 'British are coming,' it is the bureaucrats."
Nothing about that dates it to 55 years ago. Like other articles I've shared here -- notably Horace Kephart's "Arms for Defense of Honest Citizens" and "The Right to Bear Arms" three decades earlier -- it reminds us that today's Liberty-loving Americans aren't the first to battle those who seek to dismantle our constitutional rights.

Here's how "Why Not Have a PRO-Gun Law?" begins:
"The anti-gun lawmakers are having a brisk season for 1957. With the practical nature of Andrew Volsteads and the subtlety of Carrie Nations they have attacked the root of all evil and the ills of mankind by the simple expedient of trying to take away all guns. Recently proposed Treasury regulations came close to this ideal; they could have destroyed the firearms industry and the shooting sport. Under the guise of protecting the people, these makers of rules who push anti-gun bills such as these are forging weapons, not into ploughshares, but into an iron collar of restraint, worthy of a fascist state. Year by year more anti-gun laws are proposed. Meanwhile, pro-gun collectors and shooters are mollified by the excuse 'these laws are thought up by well-meaning, innocent do-gooders.' Certainly a few anti-gun advocates may seem to be well-intentioned, but let's look at 'well meaning' legislators in the forefront of anti-gun legislation.

"Take a good look at genial, charming, personable 'Big Tim' Sullivan, who disarmed the citizens of crime-ridden New York in 1911 with the grandaddy of anti-gun laws, then went mad the following year and was confined. Says the biographical dictionary, 'Vice and crime were carefully organized in his territory and paid graft to his machine, as did many lines of legitimate business, including push-cart peddlers.... When charged with grafting, or partnership with crime and vice, he could rise in the [New York state] Assembly or on a campaign rostrum and, by telling the story of his tenement boyhood and the sacrifices of his mother, reduce even hardened political opponents to tears...."

"Big Tim was of the cloth of Adolph Hitler and the spellbinders of the ages. Election fights which stimulated the public pulse in those days hampered Big Tim's grasp on politics. So he pushed through a law requiring everyone in New York state to get a police permit to buy or possess a pistol or revolver. Sullivan knew he could control the police. This meant that when Sullivan's boys went on their ballot-box stuffing sprees, they could be reasonably sure of having no opposition. Big Tim was not a 'well-meaning legislator' in his pistol law ideas. The Sullivan law weakened the opposition, sweetened the Tammany kitty. Anti-gun bills are a popular stepping stone to political fame, and many in the anti-gun ranks share Big Tim's motives."
Notice that by the second paragraph the Guns article brings up New York State Senator Timothy "Big Tim" Sullivan and the Sullivan Act. There's a reason for that -- author Edwards knew that becoming familiar with the Sullivan Act was essential to readers' understanding of the insidious nature of gun control.

And it still is. A century after being enacted, Sullivan Law remains in force, oppressing citizens of (and visitors to) New York. As Michael A. Walsh wrote in the New York Post earlier this year:
"...Savor the irony of an edict written by a corrupt politician to save his bad guys from the electric chair’s now being used against law-abiding citizens from other states."
If we're to preserve our Second Amendment right, we must get acquainted with the history of threats against it. When we invoke the truism, "If guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns," we should be able to cite Big Tim Sullivan -- a crime boss who manipulated soft-headed fellow legislators into disarming law-abiding citizens, thus ensuring that his street gangs would have the upper hand.

"Why Not Have a PRO-Gun Law?" would be a good place to start our history lessons. For a pdf version of the September 1957 issue of Guns magazine, click here. The lengthy article begins on page 22.