Myth: Jews Not Having Guns Led To The Holocaust
Whenever gun control is discussed in the United States, someone pops up to talk about how the Holocaust would never have happened if the Jews had been packing heat. Ben Carson, the embodiment of what would happen if Droopy Dog became HUD secretary, said, "I think the likelihood of Hitler being able to accomplish his goals would have been greatly diminished if the people had been armed." Some versions of this argument further suppose that because Germany had a gun registry, Hitler's goons knew exactly who to round up. This view also comes in convenient meme form.
Patriot 2012Exactly the sort of nuanced discussion this topic requires.
Guns can help stop a tyrannical dictator, and since every president gets compared to Hitler, it wouldn't be a bad idea to stock up, right?
Truth: Gun Laws Became More Lenient Leading Up To The Holocaust
All German gun ownership was banned after World War I, but in 1928, Germany passed the Law on Firearms and Ammunition. It loosened gun regulations, but permits were needed, and all new gun purchases had to be registered. However, plenty of Germans, including Jewish citizens, just held onto their guns from World War I, so those went unregistered.
Wikimedia Commons"Hey, do you have a permit for that thing?"
"Oh sorry, carry on."
It is true that when the Nazis came to power, they sought to strip Jews, communists, union leaders, and other enemies of their guns with the help of the registry, but that registry was so incomplete that many Jews held onto their guns well into the late 1930s. In 1938, Hitler further deregulated guns with the German Weapons Act, which exempted Nazi Party members from most regulations and lowered the legal age to own a gun from 20 to 18. At this point, they were essentially handing out firearms to whoever looked the least "exotic."
The 1938 law did strip Jewish citizens of their guns, but that's an indictment of targeting specific demographics, not gun policy. Even for Jewish citizens who held onto their guns, a couple rifles wouldn't do much good when an entire army came to their doors. Remember, lax gun laws mean that the people who hate you have easy access to guns too. This was explained by Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO of the Anti-Defamation League: