Whenever a politician, or anyone else, starts talking about regulating guns, it’s a safe bet that someone will bring up how Hitler supposedly outlawed guns in Germany, which supposedly enabled him to do all the mischief he did. As we’ve noted before, Adolf is a staple reference among propagandists. It’s become an automatic response to compare anyone you don’t like to Der Fuhrer, on the grounds that since he was evil incarnate, everything he ever said or did must also be evil. People have even been known to suggest that since he was a vegetarian, vegetarians are evil. It’s not surprising, then, that you often see this quote pop up:
“This year will go down in history! For the first time, a civilized nation has full gun registration! Our streets will be safer, our police more efficient, and the world will follow our lead into the future!” –Adolf Hitler, 1935
Trouble is, Hitler never made such a speech in 1935. Nor is there any record that he ever spoke these particular words at all. This little “speech” was obviously written for him, many years after his death, by someone who wanted you to believe that gun registration is Hitler-evil.
What he did say, seven years later, was this: “The most foolish mistake we could possibly make would be to permit the conquered Eastern peoples to have arms. History teaches that all conquerors who have allowed their subject races to carry arms have prepared their own downfall by doing so.” So it’s fair to conclude that he believed “gun control” had its uses. But that’s quite a different thing from claiming that “gun control” was instrumental in the Nazi rise to power.
And the truth is that no gun law was passed in Germany in 1935. There was no need for one, since a gun registration program was already in effect in Germany; it was enacted in 1928, five years before Hitler’s ascendancy. But that law did not “outlaw” guns, it just restricted their possession to individuals who were considered law-abiding citizens, and who had a reason to own one. And there’s no reason to consider that law particularly significant, either; the Nazis didn’t seize control of their own country with gunpowder. They used a much more potent weapon: propaganda.
Jews comprised less than one percent of the German population. Why didn’t the other 99 percent come to their defense and fight off Nazi tyranny? Quite simply, because they didn’t want to. They’d been persuaded that what was happening was best for their country, and that the Jews deserved what they got. It was propaganda, not firepower, that made the difference.
Under Nazi reign, Jews were prohibited from owning guns, just as they were prohibited from doing many things. And it has become an article of faith among the gun culture that had they been armed, the Holocaust would not have happened (that is, among those members of the gun culture who know that the Holocaust really did happen). But the concept of a handful of citizens armed with hunting rifles and Saturday night specials fending off an army is delusional hubris peculiar to gun addicts. On American soil, its most glorious day in the sun has been perhaps Waco. And we all know how well that turned out.
The gun culture is right about one thing, however. Hitler really did enact a new gun law. But it was in 1938, not 1935 – well after the Nazis already had the country in its iron grip. Furthermore, the new law in many ways LOOSENED gun restrictions. For example, it greatly expanded the numbers who were exempt, it lowered the legal age of possession from 20 to 18, and it completely lifted restriction on all guns except handguns, as well as on ammunition.
Given all of this, it’s pretty hard to make a case that “gun control” played a significant role in Nazi conquest. In fact, one might well say that when gun addicts brandish Hitler as a weapon, they are unwittingly arguing against their own cause.
(NOTE: Paragraph 5 of the above post was added after initial publication. For a more detailed discussion of this topic, see More on the Myth of Hitler’s Gun Ban, Part 1 and More on the Myth of Hitler’s Gun Ban, Part 2.)
They seem to be arriving in the Inbox more frequently these days, those reports of incidents in which a law-abiding citizen thwarts the intents of evildoers thanks to being armed. Passed on by one of the gun addicts we all know in an effort to rationalize their habit, these anecdotes are often accompanied by dubious statistics about how often this sort of thing occurs, and often by comments that defy all reason for anyone except a gun addict.
In the first place, most of these incidents are bogus. There is, for example, the popular story of the 11-year-old girl in Montana who fatally shoots two home invaders. For an added touch of realism, the names and ages of the offenders are also included, and their names are -whaddaya know- Hispanic. (Paranoia about THEM wanting to harm us dovetails neatly with paranoia about THEM invading our borders and taking over our country). Nonetheless, the story is a fabrication.
Occasionally, however, such a thing really does happen. Earlier this month in Philadelphia, a Temple University student named Rob Eells was accosted by three teenagers demanding money, one of whom pulled a gun and shot him. Whereupon Eels pulled out his own gun and fired back. This incident has been making the rounds along with the fake one. And both of them have prompted some very strange conclusions, like the following.
1.” This proves that we have a constitutional right to own a gun.”
Say what? It might establish the advisability of owning a gun in some circumstances, but that’s a different matter from constitutionality or legality. Reason, alas, does not always inform constitutional or legislative changes. Remember Prohibition?
2. “This proves that gun control doesn’t work.”
How so? Firearm regulation, more pejoratively known as “gun control”, is not a single measure but a wide variety of measures, some more effective than others. The fact that one teenage hoodlum was able to get his hands on a weapon hardly proves that nobody else has ever been prevented from doing so.
3. “This proves that it’s stupid to outlaw guns.”
It may make a strong case that it’s unwise to do so in some communities, but every community is different. However, the comment is mostly irrelevant. It’s not very common for a community to ban guns altogether (and it wasn’t common even before the “conservative” Supreme Court rewrote the Second Amendment). That’s not what “gun control” is all about: it’s about keeping guns away from people like the teen hoodlums rather than people like the Temple student. Many advocates of “gun control” are themselves gun owners.
4. “This proves that more people should have guns.”
Seriously? You honestly believe that the Philadelphia episode would have turned out better if all three of the teens had opened fire instead of just one?
5. “Okay, but it proves that at least more law-abiding citizen should own guns.”
Ah, the classic John Wayne wet dream. Bad guy pulls his gun, good guy pulls his gun, and bang! good guy gets the drop on him, and rides off into the sunset. The real world, however, isn’t nearly so pat.
The day after the shootout in Philly, a man rushed into a Nevada restaurant blazing away with an AK47, killing 3 people before turning the gun on himself. Two of the dead were National Guard members – meaning that they themselves were trained in the use of weapons. They probably weren’t armed at the time, but suppose they had been. Do you really believe that they would have taken note of what was happening, and looked up from their waffles and chat in time to prevent the shooter from doing his damage? Possibly, but not bloody likely.
Still, let’s indulge the fantasy. Imagine that the gun addict’s vision of Utopia had come to pass, and EVERYONE in the IHOP was packing heat. Imagine 50 diners slapping leather and opening fire from 50 directions. Imagine a dozen or two dozen bodies on the floor instead of 4. Do you truly consider that a preferred alternative?
There is no quick and easy solution to the problem of gun violence, particularly after so many years of Americans falsely believing they have a constitutional right to be armed. Even gun addicts themselves have been known to point this out – you may have seen, for example, bumper stickers that say “Gun Control – A Simple Solution for Simple Minds”. But there is nothing simple or simpleminded about “gun control”, which does not profess to be a magic bullet, as it were. What IS simpleminded and naive is the assumption that the problem will just take care of itself if we do nothing.
“We did not have a terrorist attack on our country during President Bush’s term.” — Dana Perino, Fox “News”
“I don’t remember any terrorist attacks on American soil during that time (2000-2008)”. — Eric Bolling, Fox “News”
(Bolling later explained that he meant post 9-11. He was still ignoring a number of attacks, including three that the Bush administration itself labeled as terrorist.)
“Obama often complains about the problems he inherited from George W. Bush, but he also inherited a record of zero successful attacks on America after 9/11.” — Michael Goodwin, NY Post
“The Bush administration had seven years after 9-11, no successful attacks in the United States.” –Charles Krauthammer, Washington Post (speaking on Fox “News”)
“We had no domestic attacks under Bush. We’ve had one under Obama.” — Rudy Giuliani (yes, THAT Rudy Giuliani)
(NOTE: The one “attack” under Obama was actually a FOILED plot – which under a Democratic president counts as a failure rather than a success. During the Bush administration, on the other hand, there was the foiled “shoe bomber” plot, which counts as a resounding triumph for him, and therefore is not included in the attack tally by Giuliani or the others.)
As you may have noticed, the Tea Party is rapidly drying up. Well, maybe you haven’t noticed, since there isn’t nearly as much media fanfare about its demise as there was about its ascendancy. And let’s face it, the media hype hasn’t exactly been honest and accurate. In fact, few movements, if any, have ever depended more on deception to gain support. Here are the five most common myths you’ll hear about the tea brigade.
Myth # 1: It’s a new faction.
The Tea Party believes that taxes are evil, government regulation of business is evil, secularism is evil, and above all “liberals” are evil. And guns are supremely good. If this sounds familiar, it should. It’s the same sermon that radical Republicans have been preaching for years. So what exactly is new?
Myth # 2 : It represents a large segment of the American public.
Depending on the poll, as little as TWO PERCENT of the American public consider themselves members of the Tea Party (which in fact, is not even a single organization, but several groups sharing the same ideology). A larger percentage (25-30) of Americans have voiced support for some of the Tea Party’s stated objectives, but that covers a broad swath – and bear in mind that its claimed objectives and its actual objectives don’t necessarily mesh. The movement’s decline is probably due to the fact that people have discovered that Tea Partiers are really just radical Republicans in populist garb. Oh, and if you’ve ever enjoyed trying to find Waldo, you might want to study photos and videos of Tea Party rallies and attempt to spot minority faces.
Myth # 3 : It’s a grassroots movement.
The genuine grassroots movement is an endangered species these days, and the Tea Party is not exactly a preserve. Sure, there were a handful of “tea party” and “tax day” protests that sprang up spontaneously. That had been going on for years. But it didn’t become a full-blown movement, much less an official organization, until the media began loudly beating the drum – first right-wing pundit Michelle Malkin and then, immediately, Fox “News”, which has promoted Tea Party events relentlessly. (And by “promote, we don’t just mean giving coverage to events that had already happened, but giving advance notice for future events and urging people to attend.) One organization that got the kettle boiling was FreedomWorks (Notice how extremist groups like to co-opt noble words like freedom, liberty, and family?) This right-wing think tank is the brainchild of former congressman Dick Armey, a classic Texas Republican. Additionally, the movement has been heavily funded by a number of right-wing interests, including the billionaire Koch Brothers, who never spare any expense to provide the best democracy money can buy.
Myth # 4: They’re protesting higher taxes.
According to one poll, 44% of Tea Partiers believed that President Obama had raised their taxes, while 34% believed that he’d kept them about the same. Only 2% were aware (or just made a lucky guess) that he’d actually LOWERED their taxes. In fact, taxes in 2009 under Obama and the heavily Democratic Congress were the lowest they’d been since 1971 – that’s THIRTY-EIGHT YEARS, folks. Of course, that applies only to 98% of the population. Taxes indeed were increased on the richest 2% – which, by some wild coincidence, is the bracket to which the Tea Party masterminds belong.
Myth # 5: They’re doing what those guys in Boston did.
The protestors in Boston weren’t just opposing taxes. They were opposing a monopoly on tea that the crown had granted the British East India Company, the Wal-Mart of its day, which would have been able to jack up tea prices as high as it wanted. Given the fondness for unfettered corporatism demonstrated by today’s Tea Partiers, it’s likely that if those guys from Boston showed up at a Tea Party rally today, they’d be branded socialists and possibly subjected to violence.