OAKLAND, CACountless books have addressed the atrocities committed by Hitlers dictatorship, but none have focused on the Nazis repression of gun owners until legal scholar and historian Stephen P. Halbrooks eye-opening 2013 exposé, Gun Control in the Third Reich: Disarming the Jews and Enemies of the State. Now Halbrook uses his considerable investigative and storytelling talents to reveal another forgotten chapter in the history of World War II in his latest book, Gun Control in Nazi-Occupied France: Tyranny and Resistance.
Focusing on the years 1934 through 1945, Halbrook provides the key that unlocks the secret history of Frances occupation under a brutal regime and the developments that helped lay the groundwork. Here at last is the story of Frances pre-war political convulsions, its restrictions of free assembly, its gun-registration laws, the invasion and occupation by Nazi Germany, the repression and execution of gun owners, popular resistance and, ultimately, liberation.
Drawing on newly discovered documents from German and French archives, diaries, and newspapers of the time, Gun Control in Nazi-Occupied France not only adds tremendously to our understanding of World War II, but it also remedies a longstanding gap in memory: neglect by historians of the men and women who risked the firing squad by defying German-issued decrees to surrender all firearms.
While not every French citizen caught with a gun was shot, Halbrook writes, the very real threat of the firing squad was not enough to induce every gun owner to comply, leading the Germans repeatedly to declare amnesties.
As Gun Control in Nazi-Occupied France explains:
- In the 1930s, political unrest brought France to the brink of disaster, prompting Prime Minister Pierre Laval to impose restrictions on freedom of assembly, decree gun registration, and ban military-style firearms.
- When France crumbled before the Nazi invasion in 1940, German soldiers mounted posters declaring that all firearms must be turned in within 24 hours under penalty of death.
- The executions of disobedient gun owners failed to sway countless citizens to turn in their firearms. As one German report explained, Weapons possession is the core of criminal activities of the French.
- Despite facing repression and terror, Resistance members armed themselves and conducted acts of sabotage, provided intelligence for the Allies, and helped pave the way to the Liberation.
A leading authority on the history of firearm restrictions, Stephen P. Halbrook (Gun Control in the Third Reich, Securing Civil Rights, The Founders Second Amendment, That Every Man Be Armed) is a Senior Fellow at the Independent Institute. He is also author of Target Switzerland and The Swiss and the Nazis. A practicing attorney, he has won three cases in the U.S. Supreme Court (Printz v. United States, United States v. Thompson/Center Arms Company, and Castillo v. United States), and represented a majority of members of Congress in a friend-of-the court brief in D.C. v. Heller. He has testified numerous times in Congress, published scores of articles in popular and scholarly periodicals, and is a frequently sought after commentator by the news media. He received his J.D. from the Georgetown University Law Center and Ph.D. in social philosophy from Florida State University.
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