America has a gun obsession

The Sullivan Act, also known as the Sullivan Law, is a gun law that has recently spurred conversation—making the century-old law controversial.

In 1910, the stage for the Sullivan Act was set; a crime they called senseless would put in motion a law that would serve New York for more than a century. William Gaynor, a popular Democratic mayor of the New York City, was shot in the neck by a dockworker, John J. Gallagher, to board a steamship in Hoboken, New Jersey.

“Chaos” is the most astute description of the time after the incident—people were trying to make sense of what had caused such a senseless act.  For some, there was only one explanation, mental illnesses. Gallagher, they said, had to be mentally ill to perpetrate such a heinous act. Another school argued that the shooting wasn’t a result of mental illness; it was merely a symptom of a diseased society.

The debate was hot in 1910, going into 1911 when the two sides agreed that there was one thing to blame—handguns.

In 1911, famous author David Graham Phillips was shot six times by Fitzburg Coyle Goldsborough. The growing violence in New York was chilling, and unfortunately, there was no law then to curb it.

But with the “culprit” identified, a message was put out into papers by the Legislation for the Conservation of Human Life. The then State Senator, Timothy D. Sullivan, even integrated it into his campaign agenda.

When the time came to vote on the bill proposing that New Yorkers must have a police-issued license to purchase a handgun, the vote was overwhelmingly for the bill—supported by 46 out of 51 senators.

The law aimed at curbing gun violence is being challenged 110 years later.

On Nov. 3, 2021, the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments in New York State Rifle & Pistol v. Bruen. The case is based on “whether the state’s denial of petitioners’ applications for concealed-carry license for self-defense violated the Second Amendment.”

In simpler terms, the case seeks to establish why a person needs a reasonable reason to get a license to carry a concealed gun in public.

The president of the New York State Rifle and Pistol Association (NYSRPA), Tom King, said that he realized that the law was restrictive when two members of his association approached him and told him, “we have our pistol permits and we’ve taken extra education and we have gone applied to get our permits unrestricted.”

King would then accompany the two members to the judge that denied the members permit. Again, the permits were denied, King saying that the judge provided no reasons to deny the permits. King said after some research, realized that it wasn’t a case unique to them; judges denied such permits in different states.

On the other side of the case, Rebecca Fischer. Executive director of New Yorkers Against Gun Violence said, “This is an NRA-driven lawsuit that really is intended to not only bring more guns in public and sell more guns for-profit for the gun industry but also to overhaul common-sense gun laws across the country.

The proceeding on Nov.3 was centered on places that guns should not be carried, with Chief Justice John Roberts raising concerns about concealed weapons at universities, areas that serve alcohol, and football stadiums. 

Collectively, a good number of justices appeared to side with NAR. Their decision on the matter has a significant impact on New York’s safety.

“Now imagine a future in which the supreme Court has permitted that a fan pulls out his assault pistol in a stadium filled with thousands of fans,” Roberts said.

 It would feel unsafe to walk in the streets knowing that anyone could carry a gun for no reason. Besides, terrorist groups such as Al-Qaida will intensify their attacks if gun laws in America aren’t as stringent. Moreover, police officials have expressed concern that illegal guns are increasingly finding their way into the hands of teenagers or being used to target them.

The nail-biting continues!

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