Stephen Halbrook's Masterful History of Nazi Gun Control Measures

This is not to say that gun control advocates in America today are planning a police state, concentration camps, and mass extermination. As Halbrook points out, when the Weimar Republic pursued its campaign of strict licensing and registration, they were genuinely trying to deal with a serious violence problem. They picked a solution that did not work, as some police officials of the time pointed out, causing some German states to refuse to go along with the Weimar Republic’s mandatory registration regulations in 1931 (pp. 34-38).

The problem was that, as some pointed out when mandatory registration was under discussion in 1931, “in chaotic times, the lists of firearms owners would fall into the wrong hands, allowing unauthorized persons to seize arms and use them to commit unlawful acts” (p. 29). The lists did fall into the wrong hands -- the Nazi government, after the 1933 elections. And they did use them to seize arms, especially from Jews and other “enemies of the state.”

A common argument of gun control advocates against the insurrectionary theory of the Second Amendment is that there was no practical way for opponents of the Nazi government to overturn it. What value could rifles and pistols have in Nazi Germany?

It is indeed possible that an armed German population in 1934 or 1935 would not have made that much of a difference. Hitler was very popular with most Germans, and even German Jews regarded the continual legal disabilities and extralegal injuries imposed on them as insults, best accepted because the alternative was worse. Still, when the time came that German Jews started to be loaded up on railroad cars and shipped to concentration camps, the writing was on the wall, and more than a few knew that they had little chance of getting out of this alive. But by that point, the Nazi government had used the registration lists dating from the Weimar Republic to disarm most German Jews.

Perhaps rifles and pistols in the hands of Germany’s Jews would not have seriously delayed the Holocaust, but the example of the Warsaw Ghetto, where Polish Jews with ten rifles and a few dozen pistols delayed the German Army for six weeks, suggests otherwise.

How could Germany’s Jews being armed for resistance have made anything worse?