Opinion

Where Tyranny Thrives: History Shows Obama’s Push To Limit Gun Rights Is First Step To Genocide And Oppression

The White House has announced that President Obama is working to adopt executive orders that will unilaterally restrict gun rights. Only a month ago, the New York Times openly advocated gun confiscation on page one.

The Times urged outlawing civilian ownership of “certain kinds of weapons” and acknowledged, “yes, it would require Americans who own those kinds of weapons to give them up for the good of their fellow citizens.”

Americans should consider where this leads. Seventy million mothers, fathers, sons and daughters died in genocides during the twentieth century. These citizens’ governments murdered them after first promulgating so-called gun control regulations that preemptively limited their citizens’ right to self-defense.

History teaches that the measures now contemplated by Mr. Obama represent the first step that tyrannical governments take before engaging in campaigns of oppression. For gun-rights proponents, it is no stretch to conclude that Mr. Obama’s executive actions are only the first step toward fulfilling the goal of confiscation that the New York Times advocated.

At a minimum, you can see why proponents of the Second Amendment have cause for concern. James Madison observed that “the advantage of being armed” is one that “the Americans possess over the people of almost every other nation.” Alexander Hamilton wrote that “the best possible security” against a police state is a “large body of citizens” that is “ready to defend their own rights and those of their fellow-citizens.”

Mr. Obama wishes to act by fiat to impose new restrictions on gun rights targeting law-abiding citizens.

The Second Amendment is “the Founding Fathers’ clear and unmistakable legal statement that an armed citizenry is the bulwark of liberty and provides the fundamental basis for law-abiding Americans to defend themselves, their families, their communities, and their nation against all aggressors, including, ultimately a tyrannical government,” according to Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership, an advocacy group.

Time and again, gun confiscation has been the precursor of oppression and genocide. In a legal brief filed with the U.S. Supreme Court in 2008, the JPFO documented this pattern as it has occurred around the world in Ottoman Turkey, the Soviet Union, Nazi Germany and occupied Europe, Nationalist China, Communist China, Guatemala, Uganda, Cambodia and Rwanda.

The Ottoman Turkish government followed a three-step process to achieve its genocidal aim. First, it enacted Article 166 of the Ottoman Penal Code in 1911, severely restricting the individual right to keep and bear arms. Second, the Turkish government implemented a campaign of gun confiscation from Armenians, sending the Armenians to concentration camps on pain of death for noncompliance. Third, the Turkish government murdered over one million disarmed and defenseless Armenians.

Soviet citizens faced the same three-step process. First, the Bolshevik government implemented a seemingly innocuous regulation requiring universal firearm registration. Second, the government required surrender of individually possessed firearms, except from Communist Party members. Third, the Soviet government murdered tens of millions of their innocent and defenseless civilians.

Nazi Germany implemented the same three steps leading up to the Final Solution. The pre-Nazi government enacted unremarkable firearm licensure requirements and, when the Nazis rose to power, they saw to it that enforcement fell mainly on Jewish citizens. Second, the government implemented systematic firearm confiscation. Third, the Nazi government killed six million Jews.

An armed citizenry can more effectively resist the tyranny of even the most oppressive government. The JPFO recounts how a small number of Jews resisted the Nazi death apparatus for almost a month in the Warsaw Ghetto. Other armed Jews resisted the Nazis in Poland, Lithuania and Byelorussia, saving innocent lives in the Holocaust. The survival rate of Jewish communities with access to arms was significantly greater than those without arms and rendered defenseless, according to the JPFO’s research.

Think this cannot happen in the United States? It already has. Our nation has its own shameful experience of disarming and oppressing an ethnic minority. Slaves in the South faced heavy legal restraints on gun possession and ownership. While armed Northern blacks successfully faced down angry mobs, Southern blacks lacked comparable protection.

This system continued after the Civil War freed the slaves yet Southern state governments acted time and time again to prohibit blacks from full rights, particularly in the area of gun rights. This practice undergirded the brutal and shameful oppression of black Americans, including lynchings and Ku Klux Klan intimidation.

The much-ballyhooed example of Australian gun confiscation is inapposite. United States citizens own at least 100 times as many guns as Australians did in 1996, at the time of Australia’s confiscation program, and Australia lacks a constitutional guarantee of the “right of the People to keep and bear arms.” Madison and Hamilton did not come from the Land Down Under.

With stunning repetition, history shows that gun registration and confiscation represent the initial steps that tyrannical governments implement before undertaking campaigns of complete oppression.

The individual right to keep and bear arms represents the “very last line in the defense of American liberty” and the “final barricade against the unthinkable,” as the JFPO has documented. This is a tragically painful lesson that Americans should remember as the Obama administration readies its unilateral assault on the Bill of Rights.

Gayle Trotter is a political analyst, commentator and attorney. Her views are her own.