U Chicago prof on gun control and Nazi's


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Stebalo
July 13, 2004, 02:16 AM
I was perusing the University of Chicago's Law School web site when the word "gun" just jumped out at me. Here is an article by Professor Bernard Harcourt trying to critically examine the analogies between Nazi's and gun control. The strange thing is, he says the most vocal opponent of the Nazi gun law analogy is some National Alliance, a white supremacist group. He treats pro-gun legal scholars on equal terms with the National Alliance and then sides with the white supremacists to say the Nazi gun law analogy is probably not true and that the Nazis actually liberalized gun ownership.

Apparently Professor Harcourt did not compare the GCA of 1968 to the Nazi Weapons Law of 1938. Senator Thomas J. Dodd sure was familiar with both documents and the connection between them. Dodd helped plant the Nazi Weapons Law in the US law as the GCA. It is well known that Dodd owned a copy of the NWL in German and translated into English.

... we are enclosing herewith a translation of the Law on Weapons of March 18, 1938, prepared by Dr. William Solyom-Fekete of [the European Law Division -- ed.] as well as the Xerox of the original German text which you supplied
---Lewis C. Coffin, Law Librarian at the Library of Congress, to Senator Thomas J. Dodd dated July 12, 1968, 5 months before the GCA of 1968 was passed.

On to the article...


http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=557183 http://www.law.uchicago.edu/news/harcourt_nazigun.html



Nazi Laws are a Poor Guide

Bernard E. Harcourt
The National Law Journal
July 5, 2004


The great American gun debate has increasingly turned to history-specifically the dark years of the Third Reich-for analogies both supporting and opposing gun registration and control. The example of the 1938 Nazi gun laws is repeatedly invoked by advocates and commentators to caution about the ultimate price of gun regulation. The problem with these analogies is that they are often historically inaccurate to begin with, and their application to modern American society is misguided.

The historical argument has gained momentum. For example, a recent letter to the editor of the NLJ from Stephen Halbrook, a pro-gun lawyer, used the Third Reich analogy to argue against gun registration. David Kopel, research director of the Independence Institute, wrote in the National Review Online, "Simply put, if not for gun control, Hitler would not have been able to murder 21 million people." In fact, the Nazi-gun-registration argument has so far penetrated the American imagination that today approximately 57% of Americans believe that handgun registration will lead to confiscation.

Of course, Hitler's legal policies are fair game for all sorts of factions, well-intentioned and otherwise. The National Alliance, a white supremacist organization, points out (at least in part correctly) that Hitler actually liberalized gun-ownership laws. To the National Alliance, which would like to see guns in the hands of certain white Americans, this was a step in the right direction.

So which pro-gunners should we believe-those who seek to preserve gun rights for all, or those who would like to preserve them only for their Aryan brothers?

Let's start with the facts. The passage of gun-registration laws in Germany during the first part of the 20th century is somewhat complicated. Following Germany's defeat in World War I, the Weimar Republic passed very strict gun-control laws in an attempt both to stabilize the country and to comply with the Versailles Treaty of 1919, which imposed severe gun restrictions on German citizens. But even before the treaty was signed, the Reichstag enacted legislation prohibiting gun possession-in fact, requiring the surrender of all guns to the government.

The earlier Reichstag law remained in effect until April 12, 1928, when the German parliament enacted the Law on Firearms and Ammunition, which relaxed gun restrictions and put into effect a strict firearm-licensing scheme. Some argue that the laws were enacted to prevent the sort of armed insurrection through which Hitler eventually came to power.

Changes in 1938
It helps to read the 1938 Nazi gun laws closely and compare them to the earlier 1928 Weimar gun legislation, as a straightforward exercise of statutory interpretation. The 1938 Nazi gun laws actually liberalized the Weimar Republic's gun-control measures regarding possession and carrying by making these restrictions applicable only to handguns, lowering the juvenile age from 20 to 18 and extending carrying permits from the previous one-year limit to three years.

The 1938 Nazi gun laws also specifically banned Jewish persons from obtaining a license to manufacture firearms or ammunition. And about eight months later, Hitler imposed regulations prohibiting Jews from possessing any dangerous weapons, including firearms. The Nazi regime implemented this prohibition by confiscating weapons from Jews and subsequently engaged in genocide of the Jewish population.

How should one characterize the Nazi treatment of the Jewish population for purposes of evaluating Hitler's position on gun control? In one sense, the Nazi treatment of Jews was so extreme that it goes far beyond the gun-control debates. In another sense, there was a frightening consistency: The Nazis relaxed gun registration laws for the "law-abiding German citizen." That is, those who were not "enemies of the National Socialist state" (read: Jews, Communists and others the Nazis were intent on eliminating).

Here, then, is the best tentative and, yes, bizarre conclusion: Some factions of the pro-gun lobby are probably right when they say that the historical arguments of the pro-gun lobbyists are wrong or at the very least oversimplified. What is clear, though, is that the history of Weimar and Nazi gun laws has not received enough critical attention by historians. What we really need now is more historical research and scholarship, before we can point to gun polices of the Third Reich as supporting-or not supporting-current gun-control proposals.

The larger question is whether Nazi laws, which were in effect nondemocratic decrees pronounced by Hitler and his select ministers, have any bearing on American democracy and law. To discuss the gun laws of the Third Reich in a historical vacuum makes no sense and can be misleading. There are other, more relevant historical comparisons for us, such as the gun-transfer registration schemes in Hawaii and the District of Columbia, or in the 21 states that have record-of-sales registration laws.

Bernard E. Harcourt is a professor at the University of Chicago Law School.

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Standing Wolf
July 13, 2004, 07:52 PM
There are other, more relevant historical comparisons for us, such as the gun-transfer registration schemes in Hawaii and the District of Columbia, or in the 21 states that have record-of-sales registration laws.

What registration scheme in Washington, D.C.? It may exist on paper, but it's impossible for subjects of that city to register firearms.

migoi
July 13, 2004, 08:13 PM
can't see the connnection exhibited in his own writings about the subject?

He doesn't think that the eventual genocide of the Jews was made possible by the prohibition of manufacturing rights and then ownership rights for any dangerous weapons? Wow. Liberalizing the laws for one segment of the population while increasing the gun control on another can not be summed up as liberalizing the laws.... the changes in gun control laws of the time did what Hitler intended them to do.... make prey out of a certain segment of the population. The gun control laws of today are attempting the same eventual outcome... make us prey to be "rescued" by governmental intervention as is seen fit by the powers that be.

The only difference in then and now is that our gun-grabbers are not basing the the scheme on race. They are basing it on government agent vs. ordinary citizen.

migoi

AZRickD
July 13, 2004, 09:48 PM
The larger question is whether Nazi laws, which were in effect nondemocratic decrees pronounced by Hitler and his select ministers, have any bearing on American democracy and law.
Such as the unconstitutional laws restricting the rights of American Right to Keep and Bear Arms?

The man wasted many column-inches.

Rick

Stebalo
July 13, 2004, 10:23 PM
Good point AZRickD. Who gives a hoot about the process by which rights are suppressed. The common thread here is the suppression of fundamental civil rights which gave the government free license to slaughter subsections of its populace. Some might say, "It can never happen in America." Tell that to the Indians and Africans.

AZRickD
July 13, 2004, 11:31 PM
It takes juevos for the man to mention and then gloss over the disarming of Jews in preparation for their removal/extermination.

If we had no shame, we could do that too. :rolleyes:

Rick

ReadyontheRight
July 14, 2004, 12:31 AM
In one sense, the Nazi treatment of Jews was so extreme that it goes far beyond the gun-control debates.

What a pinhead. It's a heck of a lot easier to implement "extreme treatment" of subjects if they are disarmed first.

ReadyontheRight
July 14, 2004, 12:43 AM
First the Wiemar Republic took away the guns...

...then the German Parliament allowed ownership of registered guns...

...then the Nazis used that registration system to confiscate the guns from the Jews...

...then the Nazis registered and confiscated the Jews themselves.

I urge us all to keep our guns.

Registration leads to confiscation. Period.

AZRickD
July 14, 2004, 12:50 AM
One step was missed.

After registering the guns (mostly new), they later decided to require recording of ammo sales (buy blammo = gun owner). I believe this was in the early 1930s.

BTW, I used to have a copy of the JPFO-translated Nazi gun laws but I gave my copy to a German TV crew who was in Arizona several years ago doing a story on American gun owners. They were at Ben Avery range and also did some video work in my reloading room. I also gave them a copy of the producer's cut of "Waco: The Rules of Engagement."

I hope they went to a good home.

Rick

DevilDog
July 14, 2004, 01:10 PM
Although common knowledge to most, I think it is worth noting that the nazi persecution of the Jews was very incremental, as some of the above posts hint at.

They spent many years of taking away the rights of the Jews and vilifying (right term?) them in propaganda to the rest of the populace before sending any to a concentration camp.

I wanted to mention this as I have come to believe that anytime we accept "incrementalism", we are on a dangerous path.

Many uninformed folks have asked me, "why did the gun control groups want to ban bayonet lugs?" It is all about incrementalism. We have to fight it, and sometimes that means supporting legislation we may think should be unnecessary, such as national ccw, for example.

John Hicks
July 14, 2004, 04:27 PM
You are right about incrementalism -- both with 2A stuff and Nazi Germany. The Germans villified the Jews first with rhetoric, then with "business laws", then with the gun registration and concentration camps aforementioned.

The hate-speeches (by government and aspiring government firgures) started the country down the path. Mostly because everyone was afraid to speak up. Then once the masses were whipped into a fury, the "work laws" were passed that severely limited the rights of Jews. The smartest of them saw the writing on the wall and left. Notables include Albert Einstein, and I beleive Oppenheimer. Mostly Jewish scientists, artists, and the very rich.

Then the rest as we know it played out.

It all starts with making sure the opposition's voice is heard, then by making sure the opposition's votes are heard. That's how we stem off incremental laws designed to take away rights.

JH

Skibane
July 14, 2004, 07:25 PM
Detailed discussion of this topic in Daniel Polsby's Of Holocausts And Gun Control (http://www.wulaw.wustl.edu/WULQ/75-3/753-4.html) (Washington University Law Quarterly #1237).

jnojr
July 15, 2004, 05:24 PM
The hate-speeches (by government and aspiring government firgures) started the country down the path. Mostly because everyone was afraid to speak up. Then once the masses were whipped into a fury, the "work laws" were passed that severely limited the rights of Jews. The smartest of them saw the writing on the wall and left. Notables include Albert Einstein, and I beleive Oppenheimer. Mostly Jewish scientists, artists, and the very rich.

How many Jews, Gypsys, etc. stayed in Germany, thinking "It can't be that bad" and "It won't happen here"?

deanf
July 15, 2004, 05:33 PM
Some argue that the laws were enacted to prevent the sort of armed insurrection through which Hitler eventually came to power.

This, of course, is wrong. Hitler was appointed (in a completely constitutional manner) Chancellor of Germany at noon on 30 January 1933 by then President Hindenburg, who beat Hitler in the democratic elections of 10 April 1932.

Source: The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich - A History of Nazi Germany by William L. Shirer, 1959, pages 159 and 187.

bogie
July 15, 2004, 05:41 PM
What registration scheme in Washington, D.C.? It may exist on paper, but it's impossible for subjects of that city to register firearms.

You can only own a firearm in DC if it is registered.

They quit registering 'em. There _are_ a number of grandfathered firearms in the city tho.

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