Just a little over a year ago I was in San Diego for the San Diego County Gun Owners “gun prom.” It’s not really officially named gun prom, but that’s what we call it, and I don’t know it by any other name. While out there I got paired up with some awesome folks sitting at my table. We were like the unruly children of the evening, but not put in the back of the room, so obviously whoever concocted this seating arrangement was well aware of the chemical reaction big personalities could make during the event. One of my fellow tablemates that I was sitting with was a German immigrant, and he and I had some illuminating discussions. We talked about German law, and whoa, it’s relevant.
Matthias Quellenberg and I hit it off. Aside from being a Second Amendment supporter, he’s also a certified firearms trainer and runs the San Diego Firearms School. When Quellenberg lived in Germany, he studied law, before dropping out to study management. One of the things that he found very interesting was looking at Germany’s Basic Law for the Federal Republic through the lens of now being an American.
Quellenberg brought up Article 20 to me. He told me it had to do with Germans’ right to resistance. I told him that this was a great thing to look into and that we should chat about collaborating on something about it. We did chat back and forth about it all year, and really have stayed in touch since meeting, often sharing memes and videos. The full collaboration only came the other day when he uncovered some other details about the Article on a Wikipedia page.
First, what does Article 20 say?
[Constitutional principles – Right of resistance]
(1) The Federal Republic of Germany is a democratic and social federal state.
(2) All state authority is derived from the people. It shall be exercised by the people through elections and other votes and through specific legislative, executive and judicial bodies.
(3) The legislature shall be bound by the constitutional order, the executive and the judiciary by law and justice.
(4) All Germans shall have the right to resist any person seeking to abolish this constitutional order if no other remedy is available.
Germany does not have the level of private firearm ownership that we have in the United States. One German blogger said about German gun laws, “In short, guns are legal in Germany, but only under very strict conditions.” She further noted that Germany is the fourth most armed nation in the world and there are an estimated 1 million gun owners, and 5 million guns in the country, not distinguishing if that included civilian or civilian and military arms.
Quellenberg had rhetorically asked while at the party, in his wicked cool German accent, “How is it that the German people have this right to resistance, in particular to resist ‘any person seeking to abolish this constitutional order’ if they don’t have a robust right to keep and bear arms?” And that’s where he hooked me. From the corner of my eye I could see another tablemate storming other tables in a one man blitzkrieg, stealing abandoned full bottles of wine, while I was discussing German law. I doubt it was French wine being liberated, but we can pretend it was for these purposes.
I’ve had notes written up and set aside about this for a year, and the other night Quellenberg pinged me about it again. He was doing some research for an upcoming appearance on Gun Owners Radio, and he wanted to brush up on this topic. He told me he stumbled into something interesting, that he described as “a disturbing discovery.” Quellenberg sent me a link to the German Wikipedia article – wikisource – on the Basic Law for the Federal Republic of Germany,
II. Der Bund und die Länder
(1) Die Bundesrepublik Deutschland ist ein demokratischer und sozialer Bundesstaat.
(2) Alle Staatsgewalt geht vom Volke aus. Sie wird vom Volke in Wahlen und Abstimmungen und durch besondere Organe der Gesetzgebung, der vollziehenden Gewalt und der Rechtssprechung ausgeübt.
(3) Die Gesetzgebung ist an die verfassungsmäßige Ordnung, die vollziehende Gewalt und die Rechtssprechung sind an Gesetz und Recht gebunden.
The English translation, per the web browser “translate this” function is not really needed to notice that they left off section four. Regardless, here’s the translation:
II. The Federation and the Länder
(1) The Federal Republic of Germany is a democratic and social federal state.
(2) All state power emanates from the people. It is exercised by the people in elections and referendums and by special legislative, executive and judicial bodies.
(3) Legislation shall be bound by the constitutional order, the executive power and the judiciary shall be bound by law and justice.
It appears that the powers that be in Germany, at least German Wikipedia, doesn’t want the people to be aware of that fourth provision, “All Germans shall have the right to resist any person seeking to abolish this constitutional order if no other remedy is available.”
Want to edit it? Ya get this angry looking German notice:
Die Bearbeitung von Abschnitten wird nicht unterstützt
Die Bearbeitung von Abschnitten wird auf dieser Seite nicht unterstützt oder ist für diese Ansicht abgeschaltet.
Zurück zur Seite Hauptseite.
And the English translation:
Editing sections is not supported
Section editing is not supported on this page or is disabled for this view.
Return to the Main Page page.
Why on Earth would the folks over at Wikipedia not include the missing provision nor allow for the page to be edited?
Wikipedia can be a tough source to deal with. I’ve gotten flack for using it to cite factual information, nothing involving something that’ll be touched by bias, but as people who have chastised me in the past point out, Wikipedia has a ridiculous bias against freedom loving people and anything right of center. At every such intersection in life, I personally avoid using the page for citation, knowing there’s a bias.
If you ask any American to look something up, one of the first places they’ll go is the Wikipedia page on that topic. If Germans are anything like Americans in this way, we can see how easily they’d fall into a trap of not being aware they have the right to resist. That right to resist is more clearly written than the Second Amendment in those regards, it’s only missing the part about what the Germans need to use to resist.
The Wikipedia page in the U.S. makes one notation about resistance, and that’s all:
The suspension of human rights would also be illegal under Articles 20 and 79, as above. The right to resist is permitted against anyone seeking to abolish constitutional order, if other remedies were to fail under Article 20.
We can observe that the entirety of the Basic Law is not listed out on the page, just a synopsis of the different articles.
When Quellenberg brought me this information, he stated, “This is a Wikipedia site so it’s not official. On some of the official govt sites this article seems to be intact but Wikipedia has disabled the editing of this particular site so I can’t even correct it. I thought wikipedia was supposed to be open source so anyone can contribute….” I agreed with his bewilderment. Quellenberg continued, “It seems shady to me that they left out this article and then disabled the editing.” He queried, “I’ve never contributed to Wikipedia. You tell me if this is abnormal…”
I don’t know what this stonewalling of information is all about on the German wikisource page. I also don’t understand how the country of Germany does not have a robust protection of the right to keep and bear arms listed, considering one of their enumerated rights specifically says the people have the right to resist. And, let’s not be coy here either, it’s the German government that the people have the right to resist.
Quellenberg and I chatted about all this. He wanted to make sure that I stressed to and reminded the readers that:
20(4) was written specifically with the experience of World War II and the Third Reich in mind. And that [that people should] especially [consider] the role the USA had in liberating Germany from Nazis, it seems counter intuitive that we don’t get a right to keep and bear arms.
Quellenberg also noted that Germany only received back sovereignty in 1952, with the occupation ending in 1955. It wasn’t until then that the German people were able to get arms, and that obtaining them was a privilege, not a right.
Germany has, let’s call it an “interesting” history, when it comes to armed persons, armed resistance, and who was afforded the ability to keep and bear arms. Reading into the German Basic Law is very illuminating. It’s even more illuminating if you read it through an American lens. This leaves me wondering how Germans out there in Germany actually view this right to resist. Do they feel empowered and able to resist, or helpless and hopeless?
If you’d like to hear Matthias Quellenberg’s full interview from Gun Owners Radio that aired on Sunday the 25th, 2023,, check it out in the embed below or watch it by clicking HERE.