Relation of the Sullivan Law to the Constitutional Guarantee.
This law was attacked in a test case before the New York Supreme Court on the ground that it conflicted with the constitutional provision of the "right of the people to bear arms," but the act was decided to be constitutional on the ground that it came under the head of police regulation.
In the light of developments of today this case was mistried, however, from A to Z. The sole arguments brought out at the time were based upon the assumption of the right of a citizen to protect himself and his property against crooks and criminals. None understood at that time what many of us see clearly to-day, that the right to bear arms was intended to apply not in a personal sense to the hip pocket of an East Side gun toter but in the broadest sort of political and national sense, one worthy of the exemplary document in which the provision appears.
A nation of armed citizens can no more be subjugated by an organized minority, or even by a traitorous army, than Niagara can be dammed with a tuning fork. A nation of unarmed citizens is ever in the peril of a Russian disaster. A nation of armed citizens can at all times assert the will of the majority.
In this sense, then, the "right to bear Arms" takes on a brand new significance, It becomes the very keystone of the freedom of our great nation, and laws and ordinances conflicting with this wise precaution are shortsighted and reflect nothing but the immature mental calibre of those who propose and enact them.
The "right to bear arms" certainly includes the right to obtain firearms without deterrent restriction, and to this extent and to the extent that persons may possess firearms in their homes for legitimate protection against crooks, Communists, Bolshevists and other out-laws, this constitutional provision may certainly be interpreted. In this way not only would we cover the original wise intent and purpose which the Constitution provides, but once more would citizens be enabled to defend themselves against the fresh crops of criminals daily bred in the hothouses of the crookedest law that ever held up a people at the pistol point of brazenly ignorant legislation. R.
New York, April 20.