'Surrender Your Firearms Within 24 Hours or Be Shot'

Ten rifles and shotguns lined up in a hunter's gun case.

I am reading a fascinating book by Stephen P. Halbrook from the Independent Institute called Gun Control in Nazi Occupied-France: Tyranny and Resistance. The book describes the history of how the registration of firearms by the French government before World War II made it easier for the Nazis to disarm the French people:


Nazi Germany invaded France in 1940. In every occupied town, Nazi soldiers put up posters that demanded that civilians surrender their firearms within twenty-four hours or else be shot. Despite the consequences, many French citizens refused to comply with the order. In Gun Control in Nazi-Occupied France: Tyranny and Resistance, Stephen P. Halbrook tells this story of Nazi repression and the brave French men and women who refused to surrender to it. Drawing on records of the German occupation and testimonies from members of the French resistance, Gun Control in Nazi-Occupied France is the first book to focus on the Nazis’ efforts to disarm the French.

One of the most startling facts in the book is in the last chapter entitled “Liberation”:

“There were three million hunting guns in France in 1939, according to the Saint-Hubert-Club de France, a hunting association.”

…only 835,000 of three million hunting guns –less than one-third–were turned in by French citizens threatened with the death penalty for not doing so. That is an incredible testament to the inefficacy of gun control in the most extreme circumstances.


It is also a testament to the bravery of the French people who did not turn their guns in; some of those guns contributed to the Resistance and helped the Allies to win the war. “..[T]he only armed resistance in France until D-Day was conducted by civilians…”

Remember this the next time you hear someone mention that private citizens should not own guns.


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