While we wait to see what new gun control proposals the Obama administration decides to pursue, it's instructive to recall how dangerous some of them have proven to be from the perspective of history. In a 2001 article, attorney Stephen Halbrook pointed out the lessons to be learned from the mandatory registration of firearms imposed by Nazi Germany. Here's an excerpt.
It would be instructive at this time to recall why the American citizenry and Congress have historically opposed the registration of firearms. The reason is plain. Registration makes it easy for a tyrannical government to confiscate firearms and to make prey of its subjects. Denying this historical fact is no more justified than denying that the Holocaust occurred or that the Nazis murdered millions of unarmed people.
. . .
Himmler, head of the Nazi terror police, would become an architect of the Holocaust, which consumed six million Jews. It was self evident that the Jews must be disarmed before the extermination could begin.
Finding out which Jews had firearms was not too difficult. The liberal Weimar Republic passed a Firearm Law in 1928 requiring extensive police records on gun owners. Hitler signed a further gun control law in early 1938.
Other European countries also had laws requiring police records to be kept on persons who possessed firearms. When the Nazis took over Czechoslovakia and Poland in 1939, it was a simple matter to identify gun owners. Many of them disappeared in the middle of the night along with political opponents.
. . .
In 1941, U.S. Attorney General Robert Jackson called on Congress to enact national registration of all firearms. Given events in Europe, Congress recoiled, and legislation was introduced to protect the Second Amendment. Rep. Edwin Arthur Hall explained: "Before the advent of Hitler or Stalin, who took power from the German and Russian people, measures were thrust upon the free legislatures of those countries to deprive the people of the possession and use of firearms, so that they could not resist the encroachments of such diabolical and vitriolic state police organizations as the Gestapo, the Ogpu, and the Cheka."
Rep. John W. Patman added: "The people have a right to keep arms; therefore, if we should have some Executive who attempted to set himself up as dictator or king, the people can organize themselves together and, with the arms and ammunition they have, they can properly protect themselves. . . ."
. . .
Those tiny pacifist organizations of the era which called for gun registration and confiscation contributed nothing to winning the war or to stopping the genocide. Their counterparts today have nothing to offer that would enable citizens to resist genocide.
Individual criminals wreak their carnage on individuals or small numbers of people. As this century has shown, terrorist governments have the capacity to commit genocide against millions of people, provided that the people are unarmed. Schemes to confiscate firearms kept by peaceable citizens have historically been associated with some of the world's most insidious tyrannies. Given this reality, it is not surprising that law-abiding gun owners oppose being objects of registration.
There's more at the link. Worth reading.
It's also worth noting that not one of the gun control measures proposed since the massacre at Newtown, Connecticut, last month would have done anything to prevent it. Consider the following:
- How would mandatory registration of firearms have stopped the shooter? He had no firearms registered in his name. He stole his mother's weapons after murdering her.
- How would mandatory background checks on firearms purchasers have stopped him? He didn't purchase a firearm.
- How would limitations on ammunition purchases have stopped him? He stole the ammunition he used.
- How would waiting periods before the purchase of a firearm have stopped him? He didn't purchase one.
- How would additional, more restrictive 'gun free zones' or 'no guns in schools' laws have stopped him? He didn't obey the existing laws in those respects! Why would he obey more restrictive regulations?
- How would stricter prohibitions against the concealed carry of firearms have stopped him? He didn't obey existing laws restricting that practice! Why would he obey more restrictive regulations?
- How would a ban on so-called 'assault rifles' have stopped him? Sure, he used one - but he also had with him two handguns and a shotgun. They would have caused just as much death and destruction if he'd decided to use them instead. He could also have used a different sort of rifle to achieve results every bit as deadly. (For example, many law enforcement officers - perhaps most famously including the Texas Rangers - used lever-action rifles and carbines from the late 1860's until the second half of the 20th century, long after the advent of semi-automatic rifles and fully-automatic 'assault rifles'. Such weapons have proven extremely effective since their invention, for hunting and self-defense. They're no less effective today. I have half a dozen of them, in four different calibers, in my gun safe right now.)
- How would a ban on so-called 'high capacity' magazines have stopped him? Instead of carrying, say, five 30-round magazines, he could easily have carried fifteen 10-round magazines. Any reasonably practiced shooter can change magazines in a matter of a few seconds - experts can do it in less than a second (here are videos of such experts reloading an AR15 rifle and a semi-auto pistol). When confronted only by screaming, terrified kids and teachers, would repeated magazine changes have slowed him down appreciably? I doubt it . . .
If this list makes anything clear, it's that 'gun control' has nothing to do with guns. It's all about control - control of the people. The gun is nothing more or less than an excuse. That's as true in the United States today as it was in Nazi Germany during the 1930's.