Registration as an alternative

Gun laws, including registration, are oftened offered as a sop to citizens compaining about violent crime. For big city politicians, where the ‘machines’ are often indistinguishable from criminal orgainizations, this offers the ablilty to appear to be ‘doing something’ about crime without inconveniencing their criminal constituency. Big Tim Sullivan did this in New York City and things have not changed much. Relatively honest administrations have been rare (LaGuardia, Giuliani) but Dinkins, O’Dwyer, Walker were more traditional. Dinkins may just have been stupid, however. The Spirit of Boss Tweed still lingers.

When the Kefauver investigation enraged the viewing public, politicians had to do something. The first was to defuse the reformist movement gathering behind Senator Kefauver’s quest for the White House. Primary voters loved him but the crooked machines were annoyed by the exposure of the Mob. So the crooks and the Eleanor rump of the party foisted Adlai onto the Party as their nominee. The elitists poked fun at Ike’s speaking style (so what else is new?) but the public rejected the guy who always sounded smarter than he thought. Still, Congress had to do something. The result was a registration of gamblers. This was done through imposition of a gambling tax. I do not know how many bookies bought these stamps, but the revenues were inconsequential. The law was dumped because of the inherent self-incrimination.

Some folks never learn.