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Guns and Hitler

January 10th, 2013
Ever since I started debating gun control on Usenet forums in the early 90's, one argument has been standard: Hitler took away his people's guns, like all dictators take away their people's guns. Gun bans open the door to dictators like Hitler taking over the country. In part of his insanely angry explosion at Piers Morgan, Alex Jones nearly screamed, “Hitler took the guns!” Umm, no. Actually, He gave them back. After the end of World War I, guns were heavily restricted. In 1938, Hitler changed gun laws in Germany to relax gun control laws—dropping restrictions on long guns and ammunition, expanding the number of people who needed no permits, lowering the minimum age for ownership, and extending permit periods. The same law prohibited Jews from owning firearms—the one point gun advocates focus on—but the law in general, contrary to how it is painted by people like Jones, made guns more freely available. Nor would have things been any significantly different had Jews not been excluded. Not to mention the fact that Hitler came to power politically, and that personal firearm ownership was not even remotely an issue in his ascension. Had the Germans been fully armed during that period, Hitler would not have been stopped. And while the gun nuts talk about Stalin taking the guns, the fact remains that when the Bolsheviks took power, they were armed. In fact, unlike many successful modern revolutions, many of the dictators came to power by way of armed force. Meaning that the presence of guns does not prevent dictators from taking power, which is the central theme in the gun advocates' rants. Nor does any of this necessarily translate into our current situation. The fact of the matter is, if America does fall into a dictatorship, it will likely be with the full-fledged support of people who own guns. Witness the Bush administration, in which many civil liberties were rolled back in a manner far more concomitant to dictatorships than any gun control. A national warrantless wiretapping program? Curtailment of legal safeguards whenever any claim, however bogus, of “national security” was invoked? “Rendition” of people to foreign countries to be tortured? Little of this set off alarm bells in the gun crowd; in fact, since Bush was considered no threat to gun ownership, gun advocates tended to be perfectly fine with, even enthusiastic about such measures. The fact is, an American dictator would not fret about arms much. Tyrants worry far less about guns than they do communications and freedom of movement. Controlling communications is the number one priority—and yet you see none of these gun nuts worrying about communications much. Nor do they fret about car ownership, despite that being heavily regulated and controlled by the government. Which brings us to what should be obvious: this is not about fear of incipient dictatorship. It's a ruse, or at most a deluded fantasy. The one thing it is not is a relevant issue.

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  1. Mark
    January 10th, 2013 at 15:13 | #1

    So, Hitler took the guns away from the Jews and then proceeded to murder them en masse since they had nothing to defend themselves with.

    How exactly does that support your argument?

    Answer: It doesn’t… and your post is filled with ridiculous falsehoods along with your moronic opinions.

  2. Tim Kane
    January 10th, 2013 at 15:15 | #2

    My father used to say that any thing you want to cause to effect by honking your horn, you could achieve by simply putting on your break, without making a hole lot of offensive noise and ticking someone off.

    A similar though occurs to me hear.

    Maybe you can avoid tyranny by use of firearms (then again, maybe not), but you can just as easily avoid tyranny by general strikes.

    If the majority of the work force decided it would go on strike until we had single payer health care, we would get it in a fortnight.

  3. Mark
    January 10th, 2013 at 15:17 | #3

    By the way, Luis, if you had a clue about WWII history, you’d know that when the Jews in the Warsaw ghetto managed to get some guns (and to create others) they managed to fend off the Nazi’s for awhile which likely saved the lives of others since the Nazi’s were distracted from their mass murder for a time. Beyond that, they expressed the right to defend themselves against a fascist tyrannical regime. But you don’t care about that do you?

  4. Troy
    January 10th, 2013 at 17:44 | #4

    they managed to fend off the Nazi’s for awhile

    it would take a gun nut to believe the utter destruction of the Jews in the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising was dispositive of the power of armed self-defense against the colossal police and military powers of the State.

    Answer: It doesn’t… and your post is filled with ridiculous falsehoods along with your moronic opinions.

    Actually it was perfectly argued on the facts — you just don’t want to understand.

    Freedom can’t really be won with guns — only right makes might in the end.

    All of our brave soldiers of 1775-76 wouldn’t have won freedom from the Crown if it hadn’t been for the state power of the French eventually coming to their aid when they needed it, evening the odds a bit and putting tons of military pressure on the British.

    As for our host’s facts, Hitler took power in 1933 in a very soft coup after his predecessor really bolloxed things up for the anti-Hitler forces of the conservative right.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kurt_von_Schleicher#Political_misstep

    General Schleicher was looking at, in the worst-case, running a “dictatorship within the dictatorship” — the Army enjoying some monopoly of power thanks to its traditional power base as keeper of order.

    But domestic events moved faster than he expected, and after the Reichstag Fire the conservative center finally bowed to the inevitable and allied itself with the revisionist right, establishing Hitler as Führer with the Enabling Act.

    Hitler didn’t need to take any guns in 1933; the police were generally very conservative and didn’t mind being factotums of the new Reich. After purging the SA in 1934 and kissing the Army’s ring Hitler had the complete cooperation of the German Army.

    And he also had Schleicher whacked like a mob hit in the Night of Long Knives.

    Nobody running around with guns in the 1930s was going to change this. States don’t fuck around about their security, and Hitler’s Germany was no exception of course.

    That armed rebellion with private weapons is going to preserve liberty here is, I believe, poppycock. If totalitarianism is in the cards, it’s going to be from reactionary forces seeking to establish by violence what they couldn’t win at the ballot box.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brooks_Brothers_riot

  5. Luis
    January 10th, 2013 at 17:49 | #5

    So, Hitler took the guns away from the Jews and then proceeded to murder them en masse since they had nothing to defend themselves with. How exactly does that support your argument?
    I would direct you to the definition of the term “Straw Man Argument.” Your wording expresses the idea that they were slaughtered because they had no guns, which is false. Many victims of the Holocaust had personal weapons (see below), and it did them little good.

    You seem to have realized this when you made your second post, in which you walked back your claim to a rather significant degree:
    when the Jews in the Warsaw ghetto managed to get some guns (and to create others) they managed to fend off the Nazi’s for awhile which likely saved the lives of others since the Nazi’s were distracted from their mass murder for a time. Beyond that, they expressed the right to defend themselves against a fascist tyrannical regime.
    You went from “Jews had nothing to defend themselves with and so were slaughtered” to “Jews who were armed fought back and, despite still being massacred, may have distracted the Nazis a small amount.”

    Which, of course, makes the point: even when armed in a relatively advantageous position (urban warfare), they fell within a month, and the best one can say is that they died fighting and created a small distraction for a few Nazi troops for a few weeks.

    OK, I’ll amend my post, from saying “Nor would have things been any different had Jews not been excluded” to “Nor would have things been significantly different had Jews not been excluded.” Because that’s just about the most your could say based upon your arguments.

    As for understanding history, I would suggest you do some studying yourself. Jews were not the only ones who went to the camps or were killed. The Holocaust was not just about 6 million Jews, it was as many as 14 million people, including millions who did not fall under the restrictions mentioned—people who perished despite their arms.

    If you want to say that we should not have gun control because, if in some unlikely dystopian future America becomes a fascist regime bent on slaughtering millions of its citizens, those people should be allowed to at least put on a minor show of force before they perish—well, go ahead and make that argument. It’s a particularly pathetic argument, however. A basic test of its efficacy would be whether or not you feel that you could righteously make that argument to the parents of the children in Newtown who were killed last year as justification for allowing virtually anyone to purchase military-grade weapons. I wouldn’t want to tell them that.

    [T]hey expressed the right to defend themselves against a fascist tyrannical regime. But you don’t care about that do you?
    Wow. This would be along the lines of me replying, “You obviously would prefer to see 20 innocent children slaughtered instead of having to cut back a little on getting your jollies playing with guns.” Would you consider that a fair statement? I presume not. Lesson: if you want to be taken seriously, refrain from patently false asinine statements.

  6. Troy
    January 11th, 2013 at 01:23 | #6

    Jews were not the only ones who went to the camps or were killed. The Holocaust was not just about 6 million Jews, it was as many as 14 million people, including millions who did not fall under the restrictions mentioned—people who perished despite their arms.

    This is a good point. When the the KPD and later SPD were outlawed in 1933 they could have attempted armed rebellion to restore the Weimar constitutional order.

    Problem was they’d be fighting not just the Nazis but the entire German state, which was still stocked with conservative types that leaned right and thus didn’t have any compunctions about maintaining the new order that the Weimar system had devolved into, one they largely preferred to the ineffectual center-left governments of the 1920s and the departed centrist governments of Brüning, Papen, and Schleicher.

    In 1933 Goering, as Minister of Interior, was head of Prussia’s police!

    Republicans’ love of armed rebellion, combined with their recently demonstrated anti-democratic tendencies — the overt Ohio and Florida vote suppression attempts — make them a very scary force in politics.

    It’s like the dumbshit confederate South has finally risen again, almost.

    この国から逃げらなきゃ! Wish Sweden and Canada were warmer, and I wonder how useful my Japanese would be in e.g. Denmark or Germany . . .

  7. Tim Kane
    January 11th, 2013 at 02:48 | #7

    I think Troy makes an excellent point. The American Revolution does not succeed without the help of the French. As I recall from Brand’s biography of Franklin (read 12 years or so ago) something like 90% of the munitions and uniforms came from or were paid for by the French – the cost of that war broke the back of the French monarchy.

    The American revolution created a recipe for successful war of independence movements ever since: An elite that desires independence, an ideology that enrolls the rank and file, and prominent foreign state backing the movement.

    In the case of the United States, the elite were rich people who were ingrates toward the British clearing the French threat in their own back yard and didn’t want to pay taxes to pay for the effort. Our elites were selfish bastards even back then.

    As for Mark, he reminds me of the core constitency of the Nazi party. The idea of the founder of the Nazi party was to create a right wing political movement for the working class to counter the left wing political movement for the working class in communism. Thus is Weimar Germany you had “high” right wing conservatives – the upper and middle classes, but those groups by themselves could never muster enough members to create a governing majority. The Nazi’s brought in “the rabble” to the rightist/conservative cause and brought down the Weimar republic and killed a democracy. And if you are wondering, so am I, if the Tea Party is not another right-wing working class “enlistment of the rabble”. This means Mark, or certainly many of his cohorts, if Republican, who do not make over $250,000 a year, are in this grouping of people. Rabble whose only use is to advance the cause of the elites on the right, by acting and being angry about everything, including modest gun proposals. As Molly used to say, Mark’s comments sound better “in the original German.”

    Hiel guns!!!!

  8. kensensei
    January 11th, 2013 at 16:24 | #8

    On this same note, the meeting today between VP Biden and the gun lobbyists went incredibly well….NOT!

    No surprise to hear the same rhetoric from the NRA after being asked to participate in an adult conversation about tightening background checks and legal safeguards.

    Surely after witnessing the senseless deaths and shootings, including the one that nearly killed Congresswoman G. Giffords, the NRA would have some insightful re-evaluation of their position, some sense of accountability or even remorse for the consequences of those gun laws they uphold?

    “More guns, that’s the answer…”

    “We need guns to protect our rights so that authoritarian dictators cannot take away our freedom…”

    Freedom? You mean the freedom to die at the hands of a gun-clutching psychopath? What about the freedom to NOT be killed by a gun? Does that right have no place in the conversation?

    It seems the NRA still has no fresh ideas to add to the discussion, except that we need more guns to defend ourselves. We can fend off intruders and Obama-Socialism if we would all carry more guns.

    More importantly, though, these gun nuts show little remorse for the society they created and that eventually brought about the deaths of so many innocent victims and children. Time and again we raise the issue, and it gets pushed under the rug as these short-sighted lunatics ignore the facts and babble on about their damned “freedoms and liberties.” How many more deaths must we endure in the name of protecting your freedoms and liberties…?

    Well, let’s not forget this is the NRA we’re talking about. How could we have expected anything else?

  9. Troy
    January 12th, 2013 at 05:44 | #9

    hmm, the more I think about it the more the 2nd Amendment was designed to create the Civil War — that local militias could be assembled to throw off tyranny, and that’s certainly the narrative the South still has about the “War of Northern Aggression”.

    At any rate, gun proponents are operating at a very limbic level of though here.

    Aside from the general fun of having a toy that can put holes in things from far away, the rationale of guns as self defense — personal, familial, community-level, and even national — is immensely primal, and supporters of this particular liberty understandably feel directly threatened by any attempts by “liberals” to infringe on their own rights to own whatever guns they feel they want and need.

    So we have these incidents — the Ford assassination attempts, the 1981 Reagan shooting, Columbine, Virginia Tech, the Tides shooting attempt, that Unitarian church shooting, the guy who shot up a Sikh temple, Sandy Hook, the Trayvon Martin homocide . . . the list is just going to continue and we’re supposed to live with it.

    Our society is much more screwed up than others, so even if we could magically remove all the guns we’d still have crime, but what the real work here has to be making this nation a safer place via socio-economic reform, giving everyone in this country a new/far/square deal again.

    We’ve lost that.

    http://research.stlouisfed.org/fred2/series/GINIALLRH

    http://research.stlouisfed.org/fred2/series/CP

  10. Troy
    January 12th, 2013 at 05:46 | #10

    homocide ?

  11. Londo Mollari
    January 12th, 2013 at 07:54 | #11

    Luis, I’m not sure what you mean by “fully armed” but by American standards, Germans were fairly well armed in 1933. In 1924 the Social Democratic Party organized the Reichsbanner, a paramilitary organization pledged to defend the republic from a monarchist or fascist coup. In 1932 the Reichsbanner had 3.5 million members. The local chapters organized gun clubs to comply with German laws and stockpiled small arms, which they occasionally used in street battles with the Nazi Party’s Sturmabteilung (SA). The Reichsbanner was predominantly an organization of veterans who knew how to use rifles and pistols without shooting themselves in the dick.

    (If need a laugh, run a search on “man shoots self in penis”. It is a popular leisure-time activity.)

    Following the election of March 1933, in which NSDAP was biggest winner with 43.9% of the vote, the President of the Republic instructed Hitler to form a government in coalition with the ultra right-wing DNVP. The Reichswehr’s high command supported the new government, and there was no chance of a mutiny as in 1918. Fighting the army with rifles and pistols was considered suicidal, and the Reichsbanner disbanded: members were told to bury all firearms, destroy membership records, and leave Germany if possible.

  12. Troy
    January 12th, 2013 at 09:25 | #12

    and leave Germany if possible.

    “In June 1933, Wels went into exile in the Territory of the Saar Basin, which at the time was under League of Nations control; in August 1933, he was deprived of his citizenship. He then worked to build the expatriate SPD, first in Prague, then in Paris, where he died in 1939.”

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Otto_Wels

    Wels was the leader of the SDP who spoke and then voted against the Enabling Act that gave Hitler dictatorial power.

    “You can take our lives and our freedom, but you cannot take our honour. We are defenseless but not honourless.”

    hmmm.

    The long-serving SDP P.M. of Prussia (and 1925 candidate for President), Otto Braun, apparently went to Switzerland in 1933, too.

    In 1932 the Prussian parliament was hung between the Nazis and Communists, who could not of course coalition with each other to displace the SDP minority.

    The history of Weimar is evidence that multiparty democracy ain’t so hot, either.

    AS IS the recent events in Japan, sigh.

    Good news is Abe is going to inflate like a mofo, which isn’t going to hurt our host’s investment in real estate.

    (When I was offering my FWIW advice on this two years ago I brought that macro possibility up, we’ll see how it works now!)

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