Document Type

Article

Publication Date

2004

Center/Program

Columbia Center for Contemporary Critical Thought

Abstract

Say the words "gun registration" to many Americans-especially pro-gun Americans, including the 3.5 million-plus members of the National Rifle Association ("NRA")-and you are likely to hear about Adolf Hitler, Nazi gun laws, gun confiscation, and the Holocaust. More specifically, you are likely to hear that one of the first things that Hitler did when he seized power was to impose strict gun registration requirements that enabled him to identify gun owners and then to confiscate all guns, effectively disarming his opponents and paving the way for the genocide of the Jewish population. "German firearm laws and hysteria created against Jewish firearm owners played a major role in laying the groundwork for the eradication of German Jewry in the Holocaust," writes Stephen Halbrook, a pro-gun lawyer.1 "If the Nazi experience teaches anything," Halbrook declares, "it teaches that totalitarian governments will attempt to disarm their subjects so as to extinguish any ability to resist crimes against humanity."2 Or, as David Kopel, research director of the Independence Institute, states more succinctly: "Simply put, if not for gun control, Hitler would not have been able to murder 21 million people."3

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