Monday, January 21, 2013



In order to persecute your victims, you must first disarm your victims.
-- Me

There is a popular claim among supporters of gun rights that may be dubious: After coming to power, the Nazi regime severely restricted the private ownership of firearms. Google the topic and there are as many denials as affirmations.

I wish that it were true, as it indeed delivers a powerful rhetorical punch against arms control. But alas, it is false.

Or is it? In fact, on one level, it is so plainly true that I do not know whether to laugh or cry at supporters of arms control and their silly assertion. Let us have a look at some of the details and nuances of the history. 

The government prior to the Nazis was the Weimar German Republic. The conditions of the post-World War One Versailles Treaty required stringent restrictions on both military armaments and civilian weapons ownership. However, nearer to the end of the Weimar Government, these civilian restrictions began to be relaxed. Constitutional lawyer Stephen Halbrook says:

Within a decade [1918 to 1928], Germany had gone from a brutal firearms seizure policy which, in times of unrest, entailed selective yet immediate execution for mere possession of a firearm, to a modern, comprehensive gun control law.
But Hitler's government did not reverse this trend. In fact, the liberalization of weapons ownership was expanded. German gun law was revised in 1938. Its measures included:

1. Near total deregulation of shotguns and rifles. 

2. Extended handgun permits to three years from one.
3. Lowered the minimum age for handgun permits to eighteen years old from twenty.
4. Even fewer restrictions on Nazi Party members, incentivizing growth in the ranks of the Nazi Party.

For your information, here is a pro-Nazi article on the topic.

So are defenders of an armed populace (and even more fundamentally: armed individuals) wrong in referencing Nazi Germany as an example of the dire potential consequences of restricting citizens' access to weapons? 

What must be realized is that Nazi Germany was a State and society based on an expansionistic ethnoracial nationalism (as the above pro-Nazi article confirms). Trust of fellow Germans was taken for granted. And in pursuit of German Lebensraum (living space), an armed German populace was required to establish and maintain a strong German presence in these new colonies.

I do not mean to insult the Germans of the pre-Nazi era, the Germans of today, nor even the Germans of the Nazi era as a whole. The circumstances of the rise of the Nazis were made all but inevitable by the Versailles Treaty of 1918, harshly punishing Germany for a war that was the fault of all parties involved. For more on what and how the German people thought and how they responded to the radical message of National Socialism, see this excellent work.

Returning to the matter at hand, make no mistake that the Nazi regime did impose restrictions (or rather, outright prohibition) on the possession of firearms and even clubs and knives for ethnoracial minorities and political opponents. Indeed, the 1938 gun law revision was itself edited with a section entitled "Regulations Against Jews’ Possession of Weapons.

More accurately, it might be said that the Nazi regime selectively upheld the prior restrictions, then particularized further restrictions. But that is really a distinction without a difference. Imagine that, prior to their rise, weapons ownership was just as liberalized as the Nazis made it, but for all German citizens. It is ludicrous to assert that those groups which did not have the prior restrictions lifted in reality would not have faced being restricted anyway.

Stephen Halbrook, who above noted Weimar Germany's arms liberalization in the Arizona Journal of International and Comparative Law titled the article the statement is in as Nazi Firearms Law and the Disarming of the German JewsWhile pompously proclaiming that Hitler was "pro-gun," the story linked to above says:
The law did prohibit Jews and other persecuted classes from owning guns,
The author has just conceded that Hitler only wanted the people he wanted to persecute to be disarmed. Yet he seems utterly oblivious to the fact that this destroys his entire attempt to refute the validity of gun rights advocates' references to Nazi Germany.The rest of the statement from
but this should not be an indictment of gun control in general.
Of course it should be. He continues with ridiculous straw men:
1. Does the fact that Nazis forced Jews into horrendous ghettos indict urban planning?
Though called horrendous, the rest of this amusing statement seems to be suggesting that the infrastructure, edifices and facilities in the ghettos were of high quality, which is what dedicated urban planners seek, but it is of course absurd to suggest that the Nazis' ghettos were maintained in any serious way (For a short tangent, there are practical and ethical ways to fund the development and maintenance of high quality infrastructure, edifices and facilities.). He continues:
2. Should we eliminate all police officers because the Nazis used police officers to oppress and kill the Jews?
3. What about public works — Hitler loved public works projects?
Of course not. These are merely implements that can be used 
for good or ill, much as gun advocates like to argue about guns themselves. If guns don’t kill people, then neither does gun control cause genocide (genocidal regimes cause genocide).
After reading that the first time, I was truly speechless. No one is saying that gun control causes genocide. The argument is that gun control enables persecutionThat persecution (a broad label) was genocide (a narrow one) in Hitler's case. This is merely a look at one period of recent history.

The contradiction of so-called "gun control" and the logical disconnect of its advocates is manifest in the following simple observation: Most supporters of gun control are not, in fact, anti-gun. If a private citizen were in possession of whatever firearm they would want illegal (regardless of whether or not the owner has engaged in malicious activity with that firearm.), they somehow feel it proper to send armed men with weapons of similar and far greater lethality and destructiveness to raid (burglary), disarm (theft), employ initiatory violence (aggravated assault and battery), arrest (kidnap), and, if any of the militarized law enforcement feel "threatened," they may kill the private citizen (murder). It seems they are just pro-control. Or perhaps, to give them the benefit of the doubt, they are unaware that their positions, while superficially reasonable, are fallacious and contradictory.

I do not think people should be worried about gun control undertaking a new overt racism. But that is not the point. The modern civilian disarmament push knows no race and all are targeted.

Nevertheless, it seems that the popular claim of gun rights advocates that arms control was fiercely imposed in Nazi Germany on the general population is false.

Yet, when remembering what Nazi Germany was and considering its crimes against Jews and others, this history ultimately vindicates gun rights and discredits gun control as it shows quite clearly that in order to persecute your victims, you must first disarm your victims.
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