The Holocaust is one of the most horrible events in human history. It became the benchmark by which we compare atrocities, and for good reason. Millions of Jews slaughtered. Millions more put through some of the worst abuses a person can visit upon another. It was awful in so many ways.
However, we on the gun right side have pointed out over and over again that if the Jews had been able to have guns, the Holocaust may never have happened.
Unsurprisingly, some people disagree.
But the freshman congresswoman is hardly the only figure in the nation to have manipulated the Holocaust. The National Rifle Association, or at least its modern leaders led by its now embattled CEO, Wayne LaPierre, have long searched for “proof” that gun control is nothing more than a slippery slope to genocide. And in recent years, the NRA has manipulated the Holocaust to claim they finally found it, funding research that has allegedly discovered a new link between gun control and the Holocaust that generations of scholars have yet to find.
In 2013, the Anti-Defamation League said “Nazi Analogies Have No Place In Gun Control Debate” after a half dozen commentators including Sean Hannity and Judge Andrew Napolitano of Fox News out of the blue all raised the matter of gun control and the Holocaust.
“If the Jews in the Warsaw ghetto had had the firepower and the ammunition that the Nazis did, some of Poland might have stayed free and more persons would have survived the Holocaust,” claimed Napolitano.
It’s as if they were all laying the groundwork for the book, “Gun Control in The Third Reich: Disarming the Jews and ‘Enemies of the State,’” published later that year by the Independent Institute, a small think-tank in Oakland. Research for this book was partly funded by the NRA. Its author, Stephen P. Halbrook, is the nation’s best-known pro-gun lawyer. Several years before, during the watershed gun rights case Heller vs. District of Columbia that established that the Second Amendment protects an individual right to keep arms, Halbrook filed a successful amicus brief on behalf of 250 members of the House of Representatives, 55 senators, and the president of the Senate, then-Vice President Dick Cheney.
Halbrook’s thesis about gun control and the Holocaust is novel at best. Most Holocaust scholars, like Alan E. Steinweis, director of holocaust studies at the University of Vermont, say that the idea that gun control was a factor in the Holocaust is “simply a nonissue.” But Halbrook claims that prior gun control laws during the Weimer Republic, or Germany’s democratic years before Hitler took power, were used to seize firearms from Jews, enough to have helped enable the Holocaust.
Never mind the weak evidence, the NRA’s house organ crowed about the book’s supposed breakthrough.
The problem with this line of “reasoning” is that they’re demanding pro-gun voices provide proof for something that wasn’t allowed to happen.
Did the Weimar Republic ban guns? Yes.
Were the Jews in Nazi Germany armed? No.
As such, were they able to offer armed resistance when herded into concentration camps? Also, no.
No one is saying that the Weimar Republic actively sought to empower those that followed them to commit genocide against the Jewish people. No one is claiming that things proceeded along a set plan all built around the idea of exterminating not just the Jews but also homosexuals and gypsies.
To make that claim, you’d need a great deal of evidence and that evidence likely doesn’t exist.
However, there’s ample reason to suggest that the Nazis could capitalize on the existing laws and take advantage of a disarmed population. In fact, no one disputes the fact they were disarmed and while some claim the Holocaust didn’t happen, I don’t really care about their opinions on much of anything.
Now, let’s also be clear that we can’t be certain that an armed population would have prevented the Holocaust. Even in the modern United States where guns outnumber people, a lot of folks are unarmed by choice. That would likely have been true right up until the Nazis decided to put the Jews in concentration camps. How many would have been able to fight back?
Frankly, we’ll never know.
What we do know definitively is that the laws on the books made it impossible for anyone to offer armed resistance. That’s all the evidence we really need, though the book mentioned in the above-linked article has far more than that. We know the Jews couldn’t resist and can surmise that had they been able to resist, things might have gone differently.
At the very least, more Jews may have escaped the horrors of the camps. This shouldn’t be a controversial point, and yet those who advocate for gun control refuse to concede it. To do so would be to acknowledge that guns in the hands of private citizens at least can be a good thing, which goes against every fiber of their being, so instead, they lash out and pretend that there’s no way armed Jews could have fought back.
Would the camps have existed without gun control laws in Germany at the time, though? Well, since it’s better to die on your own terms than be imprisoned despite committing no crime beyond existing, I think a lot of Jews would have armed themselves and been prepared, enough so that the camps wouldn’t have happened.
More likely, though, was that if the Weimar Republic hadn’t set the groundwork with their gun control laws, Hitler would have simply implemented his own and still rounded the Jews up. The Holocaust would still have happened.
Only then, he’d have more of a fight and while it’s impossible to tell how that would have happened, I suspect a lot of Jews killed in the concentration camps would have either died in the fighting or have escaped Germany.
But, again, we can’t know for certain.
What we do know, though, is that those laws existed and the Jews were unable to resist. It’s well past time for gun control advocates to acknowledge this fact and admit that it may well have played a role in the Holocaust.
Fat chance of that happening, though.