Guns and Hitler
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.