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The Independent Institute
Research Article

Nazi Firearms Law and the Disarming of the German Jews


Gun control laws are depicted as benign and historically progressive.However, German firearm laws and hysteria created against Jewish firearm owners played a major role in laying the groundwork for the eradication of German Jewry in the Holocaust. Disarming political opponents was a categorical imperative of the Nazi regime. The Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution declares: “A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.” This right, which reflects a universal and historical power of the people in a republic to resist tyranny, was not recognized in the German Reich.

This article addresses German firearms laws and Nazi policies and practices to disarm German citizens, particularly political opponents and Jews. It begins with an account of post-World War I chaos, which led to the enactment in 1928 by the liberal Weimar republic of Germany’s first comprehensive gun control law. Next, the Nazi seizure of power in 1933 was consolidated by massive searches and seizures of firearms from political opponents, who were invariably described as “communists.” After five years of repression and eradication of dissidents, Hitler signed a new gun control law in 1938, which benefitted Nazi party members and entities, but denied firearm ownership to enemies of the state. Later that year, in Kristallnacht (the Night of the Broken Glass), in one fell swoop, the Nazi regime disarmed Germany’s Jews. Without any ability to defend themselves, the Jewish population could easily be sent to concentration camps for the Final Solution. After World War II began, Nazi authorities continued to register and mistrust civilian firearm owners, and German resistence to the Nazi regime was unsuccessful.


Stephen P. Halbrook, Ph.D., J.D., is Research Fellow at The Independent Institute and author of the books, Gun Control in the Third Reich: Disarming the Jews and “Enemies of the State”, The Founders' Second Amendment and Securing Civil Rights, the latter two of which were cited in the the U.S. Supreme Court cases of District of Columbia v. Heller and McDonald v. Chicago as well as his earlier Amici Curiae Brief in Heller on behalf of 55 members of the Senate, the Senate President, and 250 members of the House of Representatives. Dr. Halbrook is also the author of the book, That Every Man Be Armed: The Evolution of a Constitutional Right (Independent Institute).
Full Biography and Recent Publications


New from Stephen P. Halbrook!
GUN CONTROL IN THE THIRD REICH: Disarming the Jews and “Enemies of the State”
Presents the definitive history of how the Nazi regime used gun control to disarm and repress its enemies and consolidate power. Previous books on Nazi Germany and the Holocaust fail even to mention the laws restricting firearms ownership, which rendered Jews, political opponents, and other disfavored groups defenseless.