There exist many myths within the world of firearms enthusiasts. I have covered this topic before, but today we’ll delve a little deeper into one of the most pervasive myths out there: that the Holocaust occurred because the Nazi’s disarmed the population of Germany, leaving them defenseless. I’ve chosen to address this myth because of how utterly ubiquitous it is.
To assist me in debunking this myth, lets turn to a new article from Salon. They first point out just how pervasive this myth really is:
The NRA, Fox News, Fox News (again), Alex Jones, email chains, Joe “the Plumber” Wurzelbacher, Gun Owners of America, etc., all agree that gun control was critical to Hitler’s rise to power. Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership (“America’s most aggressive defender of firearms ownership”) is built almost exclusively around this notion, popularizingposters of Hitler giving the Nazi salute next to the text: “All in favor of ‘gun control’ raise your right hand.”
In his 1994 book, NRA head Wayne LaPierre dwelled on the Hitler meme at length, writing: “In Germany, Jewish extermination began with the Nazi Weapon Law of 1938, signed by Adolf Hitler.”
Listen to any right-wing radio show the day after a mass shooting and this is what you’ll hear. In their minds, the one and only thing preventing the second coming of imaginary Hitler is their collection of small arms. It is, of course, not even close to true:
University of Chicago law professor Bernard Harcourt explored this myth in depth in a 2004 article published in the Fordham Law Review. As it turns out, the Weimar Republic, the German government that immediately preceded Hitler’s, actually had tougher gun laws than the Nazi regime. After its defeat in World War I, and agreeing to the harsh surrender terms laid out in the Treaty of Versailles, the German legislature in 1919 passed a law that effectively banned all private firearm possession, leading the government to confiscate guns already in circulation. In 1928, the Reichstag relaxed the regulation a bit, but put in place a strict registration regime that required citizens to acquire separate permits to own guns, sell them or carry them.
The 1938 law signed by Hitler that LaPierre mentions in his book basically does the opposite of what he says it did. “The 1938 revisions completely deregulated the acquisition and transfer of rifles and shotguns, as well as ammunition,” Harcourt wrote. Meanwhile, many more categories of people, including Nazi party members, were exempted from gun ownership regulations altogether, while the legal age of purchase was lowered from 20 to 18, and permit lengths were extended from one year to three years.
The law did prohibit Jews and other persecuted classes from owning guns, but this should not be an indictment of gun control in general. Does the fact that Nazis forced Jews into horrendous ghettos indict urban planning? Should we eliminate all police officers because the Nazis used police officers to oppress and kill the Jews? 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).
What the gun crowd fails to ever address within their line of reasoning is the fact they are planning to kill soldiers, police officers, and federal agents by using this argument. I don’t mean to say that they see it that way in their minds, or that they have a sinister plan to actively kill US servicemen. I simply do not think they ever see their argument through to its logical conclusion. Who do they think, in the event imaginary Hitler comes to power, will be coming to confiscate their guns? Soldiers, police officers, and federal agents.
In their minds, they are planning on defending their liberty from stock movie bad guys; Nazi storm troopers or the bad guy from Raiders of the Lost Ark. They never picture firing at 18 year old soldiers wearing the American flag. They never picture themselves as the insurgents, but that’s what the reality would be. My question to those gun enthusiasts who plan to defend themselves from the impending Nacny Pelosi-led tyrannical government is: Do you in fact realize you are preparing to kill our soldiers?