The Left still continues to demonstrate not only it’s disdain for our rights and freedoms but also it’s moral bankruptcy and evasion about gun control. So much so that Salon.com just published an article in an attempt at historical revisionism about Nazi Germany’s gun policies. The article claims that the Nazi’s 1938 firearms law scaled back restrictions enacted by their Weimar predecessor.
What is most curious (if not outright bizarre) is this paragraph from the very article written by University of Chicago Law Professor Bernard Harcourt Salon.com reporter Alex Seitz-Waltz cites:
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).
This is Alex Waltz’s logic: Except for the Jews (who are not a big deal), Hitler actually favored gun ownership for citizens of Germany. It is true that Hitler favored this policy as long as the ones who didn’t have guns were the people he wanted erdicated! Something Harcourt outright dismisses and Seitz-Waltz goes along with by default since Waltz relies heavily on Bernard Harcourt’s research. In one other paragraph Harcourt says:
How to characterize their treatment of Jewish persons for purposes of gun control—banning the possession of dangerous weapons, including guns, in 1938, and subsequently exterminating Jewish persons—is, in truth, an absurd question. The Nazis sought to disarm and kill Jews, and their treatment of Jews is, for all intents and purposes, orthogonal to their gun-control tendencies.
Professor Harcourt’s 2004 article is an attempt to refute an article gun rights attorney and Constitutional Law scholar Stephen Halbrook published in 2000 that described Nazi gun policies. Fortunately, all of Harcourt’s logic was torn apart by a piece written by Attorney Halbrook published in the Texas Review of Law and Politics in 2006. In his response to Harcourt about the 1938 law, Stephen Halbrook states:
Professor Harcourt argues that the 1928 Weimar Republic law was more stringent and that the 1938 Nazi law liberalized firearms ownership. This part of his article poses interesting insights and is worthy of close study. However, restriction of the analysis to the texts of these two laws fails to settle the issue.
In the first place, each law contained restrictions not in the other. For instance, the 1928 law required a license to possess an ammunition “arsenal,” while the 1938 law banned the entire class of .22 caliber hollow point ammunition altogether. This was (and is) one of the most popular cartridges of all time. In addition, the Nazi law banned Jews from the firearms industry, while the Weimar law included no restrictions against Jews.
Secondly, various restrictions aside from the 1928 and 1938 laws were imposed by the Nazis. One cannot glean from the texts of the 1928 and 1938 laws alone that in 1933 the Nazis imposed a ban on the import of handguns, a ban that had not existed under the Weimar Republic. All one would find relevant to this question is that the 1928 law required acquisition permits for all firearms, while the 1938 law required acquisition permits only for handguns.
Thirdly, the Nazis made clear that the 1928 law could not be “liberalized” until all opponents of Nazism were eliminated from society. While Professor Harcourt claims that the 1938 Nazi law “represented a slight relaxation of gun control,” this is belied by his next two sentences:
To be sure, the Nazis were intent on killing Jewish persons and used the gun laws and regulations to further the genocide. But it appears that the Nazis aspired to a certain relaxation of gun laws for the “ordinary” or “law-abiding” German citizen, for those who were not, in their minds, “enemies of the National Socialist state.”
As with the inapt “pro-gun/anti-gun” terminology, it makes no sense to say that firearms laws were liberalized when one entire ethnic group was disarmed and marked for eradication, and all other “enemies” of the state were also disarmed and eliminated in one form or another. The enemies of National Socialism included major segments of the intelligentsia, Catholic and Protestant religious leaders, artists, the working class, professionals, and decent people of every kind. Those remaining of the “ordinary” people included the cowed, the intimidated, and the brainwashed.
Fourthly, the Nazis administered the Weimar law to disarm anyone they pleased, with or without a legal justification. Immediately upon coming to power in 1933, they evoked the Weimar “Emergency Decrees” and executed massive search and seizure operations against firearm owners who were political opponents, Jews, or otherwise suspect. Beginning in 1935, the Gestapo decreed that Jews should be denied firearms permits under the Weimar criteria mandating denial to persons lacking “undoubted reliability.”
Fifth, and of ultimate significance, in March 1938, the Nazis adopted the new firearms law; in October, they disarmed Berlin’s Jews using the Weimar firearm registration records; and in November, the Nazis instigated Reichskristallnacht (the infamous pogrom involving massive search and seizure operations for firearms against Jews), Gestapo Chief Himmler decreed that any Jew with a weapon would face twenty years in a concentration camp, and Interior Minister Frick promulgated a regulation making it a five-year offense for a Jew to possess a weapon.
The Left is attempting to silence critics of President Obama’s efforts to regulate guns by making gun rights out to be a racial issue. Essentially, through Alex Seitz-Waltz’s article Salon.com is trying to link the right to bear arms as racist while simultaneously downplaying Hitler’s usage of gun laws and enactment of more restrictions that were used by his regime as a means to make it easier to persecute and exterminate racial minorities (like Jews, Poles, Gypsies, and Czechs).
The Salon.com article is a lame attempt by anti-gunners to change if not reclaim the narrative about gun rights. Those who cite the Salon article might want to give it another look or dig deeper into it’s logic and history before citing it in debates with gun rights supporters. That is, unless of course, your intent is to disarm the American population.