I read an article today that brought up something I found very interesting about Hitler and his gun control laws. I was just going to post it to my Wall, but I found it so politically charged that I knew most of my Friends would immediately dismiss it. Besides, I wanted to do a little research on it myself, in a more un-biased realm (like the Fordham Law Review).
We’ve all heard the gun-rights argument that Adolf Hitler instituted a comprehensive gun registration program in 1938…the point being that evil dictators (like Hitler and Stalin and Saddam) love to know where the guns are so they can confiscate them. Therefore, any attempt to register guns MUST be a precursor to gun confiscation and ALSO compares any government that tries it to Hitler et al. Hitler is bad; gun registration is bad. Quod erat demonstrandum.
Only it isn’t so demonstrandum‘d. It turns out that this argument is, if not patently false, pretty overexaggerated. By passing a gun registration law in 1938, Hitler was actually DE-regulating gun ownership. Registration was a step down from the rules of the Weimar Republic that preceded Hitler’s rise to power near the end of 1934. After World War I, France and the other great powers slapped down a lot of harsh rules on Germany, including severe restrictions on gun ownership (gee, I wonder why?). To comply with this, the Weimar Republic made it hard for Germans to own guns; after suffering several failed coups and revolutions (Hitler’s failed putsch among them), they clamped down even harder. Once the Nazis took over, Hitler (along with dozens of other restrictions from the Treaty of Versailles) loosened gun laws. Allowing Germans to own guns again, even if they had to get a permit along with it, was actually a downgrade of gun control in Germany.
And there’s this famous “quote”:
“This year will go down in history. For the first time, a civilized nation has full gun registration! Our streets will be safer, our police more efficient, and the world will follow our lead into the future!”
— Adolph Hitler (1889-1945), April 15, 1935
Only…he probably NEVER said that. There isn’t a single reference that academic researchers can find that says Hitler actually said it. More than likely, it was made up. Hard to believe, I know; even before the rise of the Internet, people were making up quotes by famous people (I think Mark Twain said that).
The alleged timing (1935) also makes no sense. In 1935, the first full year of Nazi rule in Germany, Hitler was busy with other things, like rebuilding the German Navy, getting the swastika put on the flags, passing the Nuremberg Laws to start persecuting the Jews, and teaching everyone where to put the umlaut in “Führer“. Hitler was consolidating his control; he probably was happy no one had guns.
1938 makes more sense for rearming the common man. That’s the year he creates the Wehrmacht, strongarms Austria, teaches Neville Chamberlain to knuckle under, annexes the Sudetenland, and puts Poland on notice. This guy had plans, things were being put in motion, and he wanted regular Germans to figure out how to use a trigger before he sent them into Paris.
So, in sum, Hitler was NOT the patron demon of gun control. It’s a common misconception (gross oversimplification of history, really) put forth by a lot of people–among them, Wayne LaPierre (executive VP of the NRA since 1991) in his book, Guns, Crime, & Freedom. I’m sure he didn’t have an agenda there, right?
Anyway, I’m more middle-of-the-road when it comes to gun rights and gun control. The Second Amendment is there for a reason…but let’s not forget the “well-regulated” part, shall we? I just think that, if you’re going to argue one way or the other, you should do it correctly, using actual facts. And invoking Hitler is never the right way to argue. Let’s just leave him roasting in Hell where he belongs.