Many believe the act was to discriminate against immigrants in New York, particularly Italians, as the first person arrested under the law was mobster Giuseppe Costabile . Whether this was part of the law's intent, it was passed on a wave of anti-immigrant rhetoric as a measure to disarm an alleged criminal element. The police granted the licenses, and could easily discriminate against "undesirable" elements. Sponsor "Big Tim" Sullivan reputedly desired the law so that his criminal cohorts could go about their activities unimpeded by citizens defending themselves with concealed handguns.
I guess it wins a 50% success rate.
The draconian gun laws in Chicago had a similar origin, although much later, which require every citizen in Illinois to apply for an ID card in order to possess any firearm at all, and forbids anyone in Chicago from owning a pistol.
What could be more frightening than a "made member" of the Mob hijacking America's third largest city? Alderman Roti decided he wanted to ban guns in Chicago so honest citizens couldn't fight back against Chicago's Mob.As The Chicago Tribune reported on March 20,1982 in an article titled MAYOR'S FORCES WIN HANDGUN CURB:Much logrolling went on to get this passed.
For reference, here's a compendium of weapons laws going back to 1640.