I doubt I ever would have gone to the black market to purchase an illegal assault weapon if it wasn’t for New York’s annoyingly restrictive gun control laws. Wait. Let me back up a bit. New York State passed the Sullivan Act back in 1911. The law required people to get a government permit to own or carry any weapon small enough to be concealed—handguns, in particular. Issuing the permit would be a matter of official discretion, which is a policy continued to the present day.
The motivation for passing the law was no secret. During debates leading to the ultimate passage of the gun control law, The New York Times editorialized:
Such a measure would prove corrective and salutary in a city filled with immigrants and evil communications, floating from the shores of Italy and Austria-Hungary. New York police reports frequently testify to the fact that the Italian and other south Continental gentry here are acquainted with the pocket pistol, and while drunk or merrymaking will use it quite as handily as the stiletto, and with more deadly effect. It is hoped that this treacherous and distinctly outlandish mode of settling disputes may not spread to corrupt the native good manners of the community.
Well … guilty as charged. My family (I’m descended from immigrants originating in those suspect regions of Europe) has long had a habit of owning, and often carrying, weapons in and around New York City.
But we got to this country—most of my ancestors, anyway—just about the time the Sullivan Act became law. Which means all that carrying and brandishing of weapons took place despite the law, because nobody in my family bothered to get a pistol permit through several generations of residency in New York City.