In the 20th century, far more people were murdered by genocidal governments than by armed criminals

BY Herschel Smith
2 months ago

David Kopel.

International homicide statistics usually only count murders by individuals or small groups. A serial killer may murder two dozen people over the course of many years. A mass shooter may murder dozens at once. Those who use explosives or arson sometimes kill even more. But even in the aggregate, individual criminals or criminal gangs perpetrate vastly less homicide than do criminal governments.

In Europe in the 20th century, governments killed about 87.1 million victims, according to research by the late University of Hawaii political scientist R.J. Rummel. That figure does not include combat deaths, such as in World War I or II. It includes only the murder of civilians, from 61.9 million killed by the Soviet Union to 20.9 million killed by Germany. Over the long run, one’s risk of being murdered is much lower in the United States than in Europe. It’s no surprise that migration between the two has always been very heavily in one direction!

[ … ]

Rummel found that the less free the government, the more likely it is to perpetrate domestic mass murder. Totalitarian regimes perpetrate by far the most; authoritarian regimes less so; and democratic ones least of all. Indeed, no democratic government has committed large-scale murder against a population that was able to vote.

[ … ]

In 1942, Adolf Hitler explained the necessity of disarming his victims: “The most foolish mistake we could possibly make would be to allow the subjugated races to possess arms. History shows that all conquerors who have allowed their subjugated races to carry arms have prepared their own downfall by so doing. Indeed, I would go so far as to say that the supply of arms to the underdogs is a sine qua non for the overthrow of any sovereignty. So let’s not have any native militia or native police.”

Dave is following up what I’ve seen him write (and I’ve linked) elsewhere.  But all of this stands to be repeated, over and over again.

The God-given right to bear arms is about self defense and defense of home, hearth and property.  Defense from thieves, invaders and tyrannical governments.


  1. On September 22, 2020 at 9:48 pm, 41mag said:

    Gun Control and the Third Reich was an excellent eye-opener for me.

    The Germans were sitting with various firearms, all being taken away systematically due to a Government registry.

  2. On September 23, 2020 at 12:45 am, Georgiaboy61 said:

    Re: “In Europe in the 20th century, governments killed about 87.1 million victims, according to research by the late University of Hawaii political scientist R.J. Rummel.”

    Some scholars and experts in the field estimate that as many as 150 million people lost their loves at the hands of violently-genocidal governments in the 20th century. Others, estimating more-conservatively, place the figure closer to 100 million deaths. The point being, that Dr. Rummel’s findings – if anything – low-ball the total number killed by their own governments.

    The final figures depend a great deal on whose data are used, and how those data are collated, which sources and data sets are considered reliable and which ones are not, and how the numbers are parsed. Moreover, incomplete and/or inaccurate figures are always a risk, as are lost sources, principle figures no longer alive, and so on.

    In particular, some scholars do not count deaths inflicted due to famine, not seeing starvation as something that can be used deliberately as a weapon. Yet we know, without question, that the facts say otherwise. Stalin killed millions in the Ukraine by deliberate starvation, as did Mao in Red China during the 1950s and 1960s.

    The link between disarmament of targeted peoples and groups, and subsequent acts of genocide and mass murder, is irrefutable and has been seen again and again in history. Historians generally regard the Armenian genocide of 1915-1922, to be the first “modern” genocide, in the sense that it was the first to be widely recorded on film in still and moving images.

    The Sunni Muslim Ottoman Turks – true to the pattern – had some years previously, passed draconian gun control laws prohibiting their Armenian Christian subjects from possessing firearms. This assured that when the secret police and the army came calling to enforce the caliph’s orders, that resistance was minimal.

    Some 1.5 million Armenian and Greek Christians were slain over the course of the genocide, by methods as varied as arson, firing squad, starvation, dehydration, and crucifixion. Of the last, haunting photos survive from that era, when virginal young Christian girls were taken into the desert, stripped naked, nailed upon wooden crosses, and then left in the blazing sun to die.

    As recently as the Sudan crisis of the 1990s and early 2000s, up to the present unrest in Nigeria, we have seen genocidal depredation by war-like Muslims upon Christians. Now-deposed dictator of the Sudan, Omar al-Bashir, used Sudanese Army helicopter gunships to strafe, bomb and rocket unarmed Christian villages and churches. Raids, kidnappings and killings by fierce Islamic Janjaweed tribesmen into the Christian areas of Sudan became so fierce that Sudanese Christians finally had to fight back, and also form their own nation – the South Sudan – to attain some degree of protection.

    Whether it is the communists or the Muslims or someone else, the innocent had best arm themselves, harden up, and prepare to defend themselves. The ancient law of the jungle still applies – if you look like food, you’ll be eaten.

  3. On September 23, 2020 at 11:37 am, MTHead said:

    His book. Death by Government, should be required reading to pass civics classes.
    Vox Day estimated that your 7 times more likely to be killed by a local bureaucrats than by criminals. Which is funny, because they all look the same to me.

  4. On September 23, 2020 at 12:25 pm, Fred said:

    @GB, it also matters how one measures. If, for example you count every life lost on all sides during WWII, and not just those killed in concentration camps only in Germany then the number jumps significantly. I personally don’t think it wrong to attribute all downstream deaths during WWII to the initial causes of Imperial Japan and Imperial Germany and therefore to death at the hands of tyrant government. They invaded the world after all.

  5. On September 23, 2020 at 11:06 pm, Georgiaboy61 said:

    @ Fred

    “…it also matters how one measures. If, for example you count every life lost on all sides during WWII, and not just those killed in concentration camps only in Germany then the number jumps significantly.”

    Yes, quite correct. A great deal of what answer you get from historical analysis of these genocidal and mass killing events turns on how the data are collected, analyzed and interpreted. How reliable are the sources. When sources conflict, which one is more believable,or is it possible neither one is correct or both are? And so on and so forth. And since such violent times are virtually by definition periods of chaos and unrest, how complete is the record-keeping in the first place?

    How the data are parsed also matters a lot. Consider the Siege of Leningrad during WWII, which lasted from September 8, 1941 to January 27, 1944 – a total of 872 days. Around a million civilians lost their lives during that time, from all causes.

    A researcher like Dr. R.J. Rummel would have to examine such an event, and make some decisions regarding its classification. In the historical literature, some scholars rank the siege as an atrocity and mass killing, whereas others do not. The distinction isn’t always very clear-cut.

    Looking at a conflict like WWII even more holistically, if one agrees with the supposition that the war (or at least significant parts of it) was unnecessary, then are the political leaders responsible for involving their nations, such as Stalin in the USSR, guilty of genocidal and mass murder for that reason as well?

    @ MTHead

    Re: “His book. Death by Government, should be required reading to pass civics classes.”

    Few schools teach civics these days, and of those that do, require it to gradate with a high-school diploma or GED. Many of the places which offer “civics” these days do so in a manner you and I would probably not recognize, turning it into an orgy of political-correctness and identity politics, and an excuse to bash western civilization.

    I’ve been an avid historian and voracious reader since childhood, a span of more years than I like to count, but was never exposed to Rummel’s work during all of my history, political science or social studies classes, public school all the way through post-secondary work. I had to discover it for myself.

    What does that tell you? Well, it suggests that anyone waiting for someone like Rummel, whose work portrayed communism in such an unfavorable light, to show up in civics or history curricula – is in for a long wait indeed. Education is dominated by the cultural left, and they’re very careful to police out any content which reflects poorly on their chosen ideology.

    Rummel was consigned to the memory hole for the same reason the crimes and enormous bloodletting of Islam have been. The “Red-Green Alliance” is real and it effects what we see and learn.

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This article is filed under the category(s) Second Amendment and was published September 22nd, 2020 by Herschel Smith.

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