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New book looks at Hitler’s use of gun control to disarm Jews

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Jamie Weinstein
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      Jamie Weinstein

      Jamie Weinstein is Senior Editor of The Daily Caller. His work has appeared in The Weekly Standard, the New York Daily News and The Washington Examiner, among many other publications. He also worked as the Collegiate Network Journalism Fellow at Roll Call Newspaper and is the winner of the 2011 "Funniest Celebrity in Washington" contest. A regular on Fox News and other cable news outlets, Weinstein received a master’s degree in the history of international relations from the London School of Economics in 2009 and a bachelor's degree in history and government from Cornell University in 2006. He is the author of the political satire, "The Lizard King: The Shocking Inside Account of Obama's True Intergalactic Ambitions by an Anonymous White House Staffer."

Stephen Halbrook’s new book could earn him a contentious evening on Piers Morgan’s CNN show.

In his recently released “Gun Control in the Third Reich: Disarming the Jews and ‘Enemies of the State‘,” the famed Second Amendment attorney attempts to take a scholarly look at gun control in Germany before-and-after Hitler took power. But Halbrook doesn’t shy away from pointing out what he sees as parallels, if not comparisons, between what happened then with what is happening in America now.

“Actually, there are parallels between the firearm bans and registration requirements enacted by the Weimar Republic and those proposed by President Obama,” Halbrook, a Research Fellow at the Independent Institute, told The Daily Caller when asked what he would say to those who will argue making such a comparison sounds a bit hysterical.  ”Only law-abiding persons obeyed those laws. Weimar authorities warned that the lists of gun owners must not fall into the hands of ‘radical elements.’ The lists fell right into the hands of the Nazis when they assumed power. Gun owner data can be misused by the government today just as it did in the IRS scandal, and it can be hacked for nefarious purposes.”

“That said,” he added, “comparisons to Nazi Germany are unjustified in a society where a free press and free elections remain, and no one is being herded into death camps.”

Halbrook, who holds a Ph.D. in philosophy in addition to his law degree, has a 4-0 record arguing before the Supreme Court and serves as outside counsel to the National Rifle Association. He is critical of historians who fail to focus on what he sees as this important aspect of the Holocaust narrative.

“What historians deem ‘significant’ reflects both their value judgments and what information is available,” he said. “The disarming of the Jews and other ‘enemies of the state’ was widely reported when it occurred. Historians failed to pursue the topic or the rich history I located in the German archives. By contrast, numerous histories of resistance movements in the occupied countries reflect the desperate need for arms. First-hand accounts of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising are an inspiring tribute of how armed Jewish resisters fought the Nazis.”

Pressed on whether allowing Jews to keep firearms would have made much of a difference in the end, given how well-armed the Nazi regime was, Halbrook said it may have made a difference in individual cases.

“Had the Jews not been disarmed, they would have had a better chance to resist and survive, even if only in individual cases or in groups,” he argued. “The broader question is whether anything would have been different if Germany had constitutional traditions similar to the American Bill of Rights and the engagement of the population in exercising these rights, such as a free press and having arms. Even aside from the initial disarming of democratic elements before the general disarming of the Jews, the fanatical disarming of the Jews alone demonstrated that the Nazi regime considered them a threat. Armed Jews and political opponents may have been able to resist arrest and deportation in some cases.”

See below TheDC’s full interview with Halbrook:

Why did you write the book?

Hitler disarmed the Jews and “enemies of the state” — political opponents — in order to consolidate his dictatorship and preempt opposition to his ruthless policies. My previous books concern how oppressive governments sought to disarm populaces in order to oppress them. The British attempted to do so to the Americans who fought back with an armed Revolution, which was the impetus for the Second Amendment. After the Civil War, the Southern States sought to continue the slave code provisions prohibiting gun possession by blacks, which became a major issue in the civil rights struggle during Reconstruction. My new book focuses on this universal phenomena during one of the most brutal periods of history.