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January 15, 2013

The narrative follows this path: Hitler's rise to power was enabled by the Nazi's ban of private gun ownership in Germany.
Hitler-era Germans inherited gun laws from Hitler's
predecessor. These laws were relaxed by
The German Weapons Law of 1938.

The narrative isn't true.

Advocates of Second Amendment rights are often tricked into using the "Hitler's gun grab" argument, then embarrassed and discredited when they are told that Hitler actually liberalized Germany's gun laws.

Below is 'ammunition' you need to avoid that pitfall.

• Hitler's gun restrictions

Although Hitler was adamant in opposing gun ownership by conquered peoples, his government slightly liberalized gun laws inherited from his predecessors.

Those laws were enacted in 1928, five years before Hitler assumed control of Germany. They restricted ownership to responsible citizens who could prove a reason to own firearms. Hitler actually lowered the age threshold of gun ownership from 20 to 18 and further liberalized gun ownership by revoking the necessity for registering long guns. Muzzle-loaded hand guns were also exempt from registration.  Hitler's government further extended gun permit validations from one year to three. It also removed restrictions on the number of firearms and ammunition an individual could own.

Hitlers government also lightened gun laws by removing the requirement to obtain a permit to purchase handguns by individuals who held a gun-owners permit. That is, if one carried a permit to carry a gun, he no longer needed to acquire another permit to purchase additional guns. The same was true of those who held a hunting permit. Hunting permits, it should be noted, authorized Germans to carry handguns as well as hunting guns.

Hitler-era gun laws prohibited criminals, the mentally handicapped, those convicted of treason, persons under age 18, vagabonds and gypsies from owning or carrying firearms.

Many are surprised to learn that The German Weapons Law of 1938 didn't ban Jews from gun ownership. While the law didn't specifically ban Jews from owning firearms, they were stripped of their rights to manufacture or otherwise deal in the munitions trade. Jews, you will recall, were not considered citizens under the National Socialists regime.

Ironically, it was Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower who imposed confiscation of firearms in Germany. American soldiers have been faulted for absconding hordes of guns from Germans after the Allied victory and the Russians have been summarily condemned for executing Germans found with guns or bullets in their possession.

Note, also, that The German Weapons Act (German: Waffengesetz) of 1972 is considered one of the most restrictive gun laws imposed by any government and was enacted decades after the demise of Hitler and his Third Reich.

• Godwin's Law

There is a concept called 'Godwin's Law.' It observes that virtually every debate regarding public policy will ultimately degrade to evoking Hitler or Nazis as a means to discredit the opposing view.

Consequently Hitler has been credited with everything from banning God from government schools to outlawing gun ownership. It should be noted that Hitler's rise to power can be attributed to the skillful use of the media rather than violent force.

Furthermore, Hitler was wildly popular in Germany and faced little opposition. He had no need to ban guns among the general population. The threat of armed revolution among the populace was non-existent and violent street crime, typical in today's America, was highly unusual among the orderly and well-behaved German culture.

Unlike most world leaders, Hitler toured the nation in an open vehicle, undeterred by the prospect of being taken out by a crazed gunman. The last American president who did that was John F. Kennedy.

While Hitler's socialist and fascist policies are anathema to liberty-loving republicans, no one can argue with his success at reviving Germany's post-war economy. It is, therefore, foolish to make untrue attributions to Hitler, or anyone, for that matter. Misquoted history will eventually be discredited.

• Addendum

The problem is we don't read history, we read about history. There is often a significant difference between the two.

For the record, I am adamantly opposed to socialism and it's evil fraternal twin, fascism. However, history is what it is and intentionally distorting it to makes one's case is not only immoral but ill-advised.

Advocates of Second Amendment rights should be careful not to exaggerate Hitler's gun laws. Such exaggeration will ultimately lead to a loss of credibility. Rather, we should 'stick to our guns' and base our argument on the veracity of the United States Constitution.

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  1. Great stuff! Reprinted with other links and comments here:
    Argumentum Ad Hitlerum

  2. "On November 11, 1938, the Minister of the Interior, Wilhelm Frick, passed Regulations Against Jews' Possession of Weapons. This regulation effectively deprived all Jews of the right to possess firearms or other weapons."

    Halbrook, Stephen P. (2000) "Nazi Firearms Law and the Disarming of the German Jews." Arizona Journal of International and Comparative Law, Vol 17. No. 3. p.528.

  3. From: Regulations Against Jews' Possession of Weapons

    11 November 1938

    With a basis in §31 of the Weapons Law of 18 March 1938 (Reichsgesetzblatt I, p.265), Article III of the Law on the Reunification of Austria with Germany of 13 March 1938 (Reichsgesetzblatt I, p. 237), and §9 of the Führer and Chancellor's decree on the administration of the Sudeten-German districts of 1 October 1938 (Reichsgesetzblatt I, p 1331) are the following ordered:
    Jews (§5 of the First Regulations of the German Citizenship Law of 14 November 1935, Reichsgesetzblatt I, p. 1333) are prohibited from acquiring, possessing, and carrying firearms and ammunition, as well as truncheons or stabbing weapons. Those now possessing weapons and ammunition are at once to turn them over to the local police authority.

    Firearms and ammunition found in a Jew's possession will be forfeited to the government without compensation.


    When the Nazis enacted their own law in 1938, they added restrictions aimed at Jews, such as not allowing Jews to work in any business involving guns. They also prohibited those under eighteen from buying guns, added yet another permit for handguns, and banned silencers and small hollow-point ammunition. Of course, Nazi officials were exempted from all gun permits. Later that year, after "Kristallnacht," Hitler forbade Jews to possess pretty much any weapons.

    To summarize, Hitler did "effect total gun control," but only for the Jews, and only after his regime had been in power for several years. For the rest of the population he relied on laws already in place.

  5. Good post. A better analogy is Stalin, but that doesn't have the emotional zing of Herr Hitler.

  6. We don't need to always be talking Hitler anyway. Quite frankly I'm sick of the guy. How can this one dude really be applicable to every single scenario?

    1. Yeah, it's the same overuse as when every scandal is called a "gate." Really tiresome.

  7. I find this article a tad off base. The real problem with the Hitler comparison (and the article notes this without making the appropriate connection) is that Hitler WAS IN FACT for disarming those generally opposed to the German Reich, including conquered peoples and German citizens if necessary. Most Germans were too afraid to oppose Hitler, unlike Americans who loudly and rightfully oppose this Administration which is and acts unconstitutionally almost daily now.

    Do not let anyone bully you into thinking otherwise or suggesting making a comparison to modern day America is inappropriate. This Administration especially is dead set on disarming all those opposed to its Communist and Socialist views even if that happens to include a large percentage of Americans.

  8. Ken, this article is just plain wrong, you were tricked. The facts are presented in the comments, He banned guns for the Jews, the very people he was trying to oppress. IF that's not gun control, what is?? Why is this article still posted?

  9. Thanks, Ken. Excellent post.

  10. Ken is an idiot. The argument is quite valid. Hitler kept guns out of anyone's hands who opposed the Third Reich and that included Jews and his own citizens who did not goose step to the Nazi beat! It's quite simple really, disarm a nation and they become defenseless. Gee who else tried to do that? hmm... Oh yeah, the British before the Revolutionary War!

  11. I appreciate the information that you have shared with us. It is right that gun should be ban but it is implemented especially for the criminals. There are many people who wants to buy or have gun for doing enjoyable activities such as target shooting, hunting or for home safety. For safety use of guns people should take firearm safety courses such as gun range in Massachusetts which offers best firearm safety training.

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