Saturday, 12 January 2013

Anti-Semitism and those NRA Hitler arguments

A few articles I've seen in recent days have been trying to refute the arguments of the NRA and its ilk that Hitler's tyranny was facilitated by gun restrictions on the citizenry. See, for example, The Hitler gun control lie  or Was Hitler really a fan of gun control or The Myth of Hitler's Gun Ban. I'm not going to try to address the soundness or validity of the NRA argument that Hitler used gun control to establish tyranny and the Holocaust. But I think it's worth noting even if Hitler and Stalin had exploited gun control to establish tyranny, (and it's not clear to me that they did), it would be wrong to assume that the second amendment is the only or even the most efficacious way to prevent tyranny.

But setting that aside, a common point in these refutations is arguing that Hitler's 1938 gun law in fact loosened gun control.  There are two things wrong with this as a refutation of attempts to prove that gun control had anything to do with tyranny and the Holocaust. First, gun rights advocates are correct to observe that Hitler's regime was preceded by the establishment of a gun registry in 1928. This wasn't Hitler's doing, as at least one of these articles stresses, but isn't that entirely beside the point? The argument, presumably, is that gun control can facilitate tyranny, not a less interesting historical argument about whether or not Hitler established the gun registry. Secondly, and more importantly, in my opinion, the argument is  just wrong about the law being pro-gun rights.  Hitler's 1938 gun law (wikipedia link) apparently did loosen gun laws for *some* people, but it didn't do away with a registry, only removed rifles from the list. However, the '38 gun law *completely forbade* Jews from owning guns. Arguments that Hitler wasn't really a gun control proponent must dismiss or trivialize this fact, but that's a pretty important fact to trivialize or dismiss. The line of argument strikes me as anti-semitic. To interpret it as pro-gun rights we have to assume that the rights of Jewish people are irrelevant or not particularly relevant to the overall rights question.

Suppose that someone were trying to persuade us that some dictator actually wasn't an opponent of democracy and to demonstrate that s/he pointed to some legislation the dictator's administration implemented that made it slightly easier for white males to vote but stripped away that right from all women. Wouldn't we argue that that actually didn't show the dictator was pro-democracy at all, but only that the historian was quite sexist?