10 months, 2 weeks ago
Attorney General Eric Holder told Congress in April about an idea he had directed the Department of Justice to investigate: a requirement that gun owners wear electronic bracelets that would enable only registered owners to activate their firearms. Some critics, focusing on abusive surveillance powers, have called it Orwellian.
But one needn’t look to fiction to be wary: History offers numerous examples of well-intentioned policies to control crime that have had disastrous consequences. In my new book, “Gun Control in the Third Reich,” one particularly horrific case study begins in Germany during the tumultuous early 1930s.
In 1932, Alfred Flatow, the three-time gold medalist in gymnastics at the 1896 Olympics, complied with a gun-registration requirement that Weimar officials hoped would reduce the threat posed by extremist groups. The former athlete dutifully registered three handguns, but this didn’t spare him. The government warned that gun-ownership records must be stored securely so they wouldn’t fall into the wrong hands. It failed to consider that only law-abiding citizens would register, whereas political extremists and criminals would not.
In 1933, the ultimate extremist group, led by Adolf Hitler, seized power and immediately set about using gun-registration records to identify, disarm and attack “enemies of the state,” a euphemism for all political opponents. Police conducted search-and-seizure operations for guns and “subversive” literature in Jewish communities and working-class neighborhoods.
And you know the rest of the historical account. Holbrook’s piece is good right up until this.
None of this is to claim that Eric Holder or today’s proponents of gun control are totalitarians in waiting. But this frightening saga is a reminder of good intentions gone horribly wrong. And unless we let the lessons sink in, we will dishonor honorable people such as Alfred Flatow – and millions more whose suffering we should never forget.
I argue – and have many times – that there is nothing good about the intention behind a universal background check or national gun registration. And Obama and Holder are indeed totalitarians, not just in waiting, but in realitatem. All gun control is totalitarian, and as I’ve pointed out before, gun control is a sign of wicked rulers.
Nonetheless, Holbrook has written a very good piece worthy of the few minutes it takes to read it. It’s good to see him back in the public eye.