What has Americans so frightened? Why are they stocking up on guns and ammo?

Fears of crime, a potential crackdown on firearms, social collapse and even zombies have millions loading up as never before.

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“In 1911 – in the wake of a notorious Gramercy Park blueblood murder-suicide – Sullivan sponsored the Sullivan Act, which mandated police-issued licenses for handguns and made it a felony to carry an unlicensed concealed weapon.

“This was the heyday of the pre-Prohibition gangs, roving bands of violent toughs who terrorized ethnic neighborhoods and often fought pitched battles with police,” write the editors. “In 1903, the Battle of Rivington Street pitted a Jewish gang, the Eastmans, against the Italian Five Pointers. When the cops showed up, the two underworld armies joined forces and blasted away, resulting in three deaths and scores of injuries. The public was clamoring for action against the gangs.

“Problem was the gangs worked for Tammany. The Democratic machine used them as shtarkers (sluggers), enforcing discipline at the polls and intimidating the opposition. Gang leaders like Monk Eastman were even employed as informal ‘sheriffs,’ keeping their turf under Tammany control.

“The Tammany Tiger needed to rein in the gangs without completely crippling them. Enter Big Tim with the perfect solution: Ostensibly disarm the gangs – and ordinary citizens, too – while still keeping them on the streets.

“Sullivan knew the gangs would flout the law, but appearances were more important than results.


“Ordinary citizens were disarmed, which solved another problem: Gangsters had been bitterly complaining to Tammany that their victims sometimes shot back at them.”

So, Sullivan pushed through one of the most restrictive gun laws in America. And oddly, gun violence did not end in New York City, notes U.S. Marines Corporal Joshua Boston.

He was deployed to Afghanistan in 2004 and 2005. “I own the guns I own because I acknowledge mankind’s shortcomings instead of pretending like they don’t exist,” he wrote recently for CNN a column that has been widely published on the Internet – particularly because of his personal vow to California Senator Diane Feinstein that he as a gun owner is her protector, not her enemy – and that he will never give up his guns. “There are evil men in this world and there just may be a time when I need to do the unthinkable to protect me or my family.”

His wariness and that of today’s gun-buying spree goes beyond burglars and madmen – or hunting, says Kevin D. Williamson, writing in National Review.

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Rob Kerby, Senior Editor
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