We've seen a lot of assertions recently (from the NRA, Glenn Beck, batshit insane radio host Alex Jones, and a wide variety of gun rights absolutists) that our freedoms are at risk if we place any controls on gun ownership, and these assertions are "supported" by claims that various dictators began to opress their people by taking away their guns. Stalin and particularly Hitler are cited as exemplars of this risk. It's nonsense, and it deserves a response, so here it is:
The “argument” that Hitler began the Holocaust by disarming the
German people is taken from a book written in 1994 by the NRA’s Wayne LaPierre
called “Guns, Crime, and Freedom”, in which he said; “In Germany, Jewish
extermination began with the Nazi Weapon Law of 1938, signed by Adolf Hitler.”
That statement may be intuitively plausible, but it’s as wrong now as it was
when it was written. All private firearms in Germany were banned and confiscated by the Weimar
government in 1919 in order to comply with the conditions of the Treaty of Versailles.
In 1928, the Weimar government relaxed that ban, but placed strict licensing
and permitting requirements on all firearms, including separate permits
required to: own, privately sell, carry, manufacture, or professionally deal in
firearms and ammunition.
Please remember that the Nazis came to power five years later, in 1933. The
1938 law that LaPierre referred to did pretty much exactly the opposite of what
he claimed it did. It completely deregulated the ownership and transfer of long
guns and ammunition, lowered the minimum age of purchase from 20 to 18, and
dramatically increased the numbers of people, including Nazi party members, who
were entirely exempt from any gun regulations. A subsequent law did prohibit
Jews from owning firearms, but very few Jews owned firearms anyway, or had
since 1919. What’s more, the law wasn’t passed until after Kristallnacht and years
of other beating and lynching of Jews, and after five years of anti-semitic
legislation which banned Jews from participation in a wide range of professions,
prohibited intermarriage between Jews and other Germans, stripped German Jews
of their citizenship, and ordered forced sterilizations in the hundreds of thousands.
With that history preceding it, to say that the firearms law was what started
the Holocaust is dangerously wrong and frankly ridiculous.
Apart from the factual historical inaccuracy in LaPierre’s
assertion, it relies on a premise that’s also widespread in today’s argument –
that a persecuted subgroup could make an effective stand against an army
determined to destroy it by virtue of having guns. A few moments careful consideration
will reveal this premise to be tenuous at best. In the case of the Jews in
Germany, one historian has observed that the Russian army lost 7 million men
fighting the Wehrmacht, SA, and SS, despite having tanks, planes, artillery,
and an alliance with several other world powers. To imagine that German Jews,
armed with pistols, rifles, and shotguns, would have done better, is absurd on
Frankly, the same is true in the US today. Despite the mythology that we are so
fond of steeping ourselves in, what protects our freedoms is public vigilance,
not armed individuals. If the US military was ordered to take up arms against some
subgroup of our citizens, with or without the acquiescence and support of the American public,
and agreed to follow that order, that subgroup would be in a world of trouble. Anyone who tells you differently
either has an agenda that makes them uninterested in the factual basis of the
arguments they are presenting, has no idea about the value of actual military training,
weapons, and tactics, or has been watching waaay too many Rambo movies.
<Correction: The argument that Hitler started the Holocaust by disarming German Jews is actually older than LaPierre's book, dating at least to 1989, when a gun rights group called Jews for the Preservation of Gun Ownership used it to argue against the imposition of a handgun ban in Chicago.>
This article on HuffPo describes the very public musings of some evangelical leaders about the greater meaning of Rev. Louie Giglio's removal from the list of performers at Barack Obama's second innaugural. Rev. Giglio was scheduled to deliver a blessing, and that schedule was changed after homophobic and condemnatory quotations from the bible were found in a sermon he taught in 1996. The leaders in question have been concern-trolling about whether this means that we as a people are intolerant of those with deeply held religious convictions, and that they are unwelcome to share those convictions with the rest of us at a secular and political event.
Leaving aside the whole issue of whether it's appropriate to have blessings offered by anyone at a secular celebration such as the innauguration of a president, it's specatularly rich that those whining about intolerance of their beliefs have
been shoving the intolerance in their beliefs down everyone's throat for
the last thirty years or so. For those "wondering" if that bigotry is
still "welcome in the public square", no, it's not, and good riddance.
It's a cute rhetorical trick to bemoan disapproval of intolerance as
intolerant, but it's transparently nonsense, and it has finally begun to
stop working. As others have said, believe whatever bronze-age gibberish
you like, but don't expect the rest of us to take those beliefs as
sacrosanct or worthy of special consideration just because somebody
thousands of years ago wrote them in your magic book. Your bigotry is
exactly as "welcome in the public square" as the idea that the earth is
flat and has dragons around the edge of it.