During the militarized police invasion of Ferguson, a Washington Post blogger had the nerve to ask, “Why aren’t libertarians talking about Ferguson?” Never mind that plenty of libertarians had been saying a great deal about Ferguson, and that several, like Will Grigg and Radley Balko, devote their entire careers to covering police brutality and militarization. After being taken to task for such a baseless, oblivious remark, the blogger backpedaled. But soon after, the left moved on to yet another ridiculous Ferguson-related, anti-libertarian talking point, arguing in The New Republic that “Libertarians Who Oppose a Militarized Police Should Support Gun Control — But They Don’t, of Course.”
What is particularly ridiculous about this is the idea that the black community, which the left professes to champion, and which bore the brunt of police militarization in Ferguson, benefits from civilian disarmament (gun control). To be thoroughly disabused of that notion, read Anthony Gregory’s column, “Who Goes to Prison Due to Gun Control?” where he writes:
Somehow, left-liberals have associated the cause of gun rights with white racism, when if anything it is gun control that has a racist legacy. In the United States, early gun laws targeted recently freed blacks, and open carry first became banned in California under Governor Ronald Reagan to disarm groups like the Black Panthers. Today, blacks and Hispanics are disproportionately subjected to humiliating stop-and-frisk searches in the name of gun control.
Perhaps the most telling data concerns the racial makeup of who goes to prison for gun violations. According to the U.S. Sentencing Commission, for Fiscal Year 2011, 49.6% of those sentenced to federal incarceration with a primary offense of firearms violations were black, 20.6% were Hispanic, and only 27.5% were white.
This is how gun laws actually work — those caught violating them go to prison. For the mere act of owning an illegal weapon — not necessarily for using it, not for threatening anyone with it, not for being irresponsible with it — people who have harmed no one are locked up in prison for years at a time. As with the rest of the criminal justice system, particularly the war on drugs, these laws disproportionately harm the poor and minorities. That is the inescapable reality of gun control.
And in his column, “The Panthers Were Right and Reagan Was Wrong on Gun Control,” Gregory argues that gun ownership has been crucial in the efforts of blacks to protect their rights from racist cops and mobs, which underscores the importance of today’s #BlackOpenCarry movement. For more on this, read Thaddeus Russell’s “How ‘Crazy Negroes’ With Guns Helped Kill Jim Crow.”
This is not the first time gun control favored by liberals has ended up persecuting and disarming an oppressed minority, thereby serving them up prone and helpless on a silver platter to bigots empowered by the state. The same basic pattern occurred in interwar Germany. In that case, the gun control promoters were the liberal democrats running the Weimar Republic, the oppressed minority was the German Jews, and the state-empowered bigots were the Nazis. Stephen Halbrook, author of Gun Control in the Third Reich: Disarming the Jews and ‘Enemies of the State,’ wrote in November of last year the following (the quote is long, but it is a must-read story):
This week marks the 75th anniversary of Kristallnacht, or the Night of the Broken Glass, the Nazi pogrom against Germany’s Jews on Nov. 9–10, 1938. Historians have documented most everything about it except what made it so easy to attack the defenseless Jews without fear of resistance. Their guns were registered and thus easily confiscated.
To illustrate, turn the clock back further and focus on just one victim, a renowned German athlete. Alfred Flatow won first place in gymnastics at the 1896 Olympics. In 1932, he dutifully registered three handguns, as required by a decree of the liberal Weimar Republic. The decree also provided that in times of unrest, the guns could be confiscated. The government gullibly neglected to consider that only law-abiding citizens would register, while political extremists and criminals would not. However, it did warn that the gun-registration records must be carefully stored so they would not fall into the hands of extremists.
The ultimate extremist group, led by Adolf Hitler, seized power just a year later, in 1933. The Nazis immediately used the firearms-registration records to identify, disarm and attack “enemies of the state,” a euphemism for Social Democrats and other political opponents of all types. Police conducted search-and-seizure operations for guns and “subversive” literature in Jewish communities and working-class neighborhoods.
Jews were increasingly deprived of more and more rights of citizenship in the coming years. The Gestapo cautioned the police that it would endanger public safety to issue gun permits to Jews. Hitler faked a show of tolerance for the 1936 Olympics in Berlin, but Flatow refused to attend the reunion there of former champions. He was Jewish and would not endorse the farce.
By fall of 1938, the Nazis were ratcheting up measures to expropriate the assets of Jews. To ensure that they had no means of resistance, the Jews were ordered to surrender their firearms.
Flatow walked into a Berlin police station to comply with the command and was arrested on the spot, as were other Jews standing in line. The arrest report confirmed that his pistols were duly registered, which was obviously how the police knew he had them. While no law prohibited a Jew from owning guns, the report recited the Nazi mantra: “Jews in possession of weapons are a danger to the German people.” Despite his compliance, Flatow was turned over to the Gestapo.
This scenario took place all over Germany — firearms were confiscated from all Jews registered as gun owners. As this was occurring, a wholly irrelevant event provided just the excuse needed to launch a violent attack on the Jewish community: A Polish teenager who was Jewish shot a German diplomat in Paris. The stage was set to instigate Kristallnacht, a carefully orchestrated Nazi onslaught against the entire Jewish community in Germany that horrified the world and even the German public.
Under the pretense of searching for weapons, Jewish homes were vandalized, businesses ransacked and synagogues burned. Jews were terrorized, beaten and killed. Orders were sent to shoot anyone who resisted.
SS head Heinrich Himmler decreed that possession of a gun by a Jew was punishable by 20 years in a concentration camp. An estimated 20,000 Jewish men were thrown into such camps for this reason or just for being Jewish. The Jewish community was then held at ransom to pay for the damage done by the Nazis. (…)
Kristallnacht has been called “the day the Holocaust began.” Flatow’s footsteps can be followed to see why. He would be required to wear the Star of David. In 1942, he was deported to the Theresienstadt concentration camp, where he starved to death.
The left seems to have this delusion that gun control will only help the Janet Renos and Eric Holders of the world zap the David Koreshes and Cliven Bundys. In reality, it also, and chiefly, helps the Chancellor Adolph Hitlers and Officer Darren Wilsons of the world murder the Alfred Flatows and Michael Browns.
Of course most of the Weimar liberal democrats themselves did not fare very well either under the Nazis, who were able to use gun control to liquidate their political opponents. And this points to another way in which progressives are the last people who should want gun control.
At the beginning of the Obama administration, long before disillusionment over “Hope and Change” had set in, I once heard a progressive muse half-jokingly that the least-bad solution to our severe problems might be to have Obama become a “benevolent dictator.” Such daydreaming betrays a poor understanding of the political and social dynamics of America. Sinclair Lewis showed a better understanding of the country when he allegedly wrote, “When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross.”
If dictatorship ever comes to America, considering the belligerent macho spirit of American conservatives, and the association of the American police and military with conservatism, it will much more likely arrive via a right-wing, religion-tinged, nationalist military coup than one by left-wing, “humanitarian” technocrats. And it won’t be led by effeminate totalitarian brain trusters like Rexford Tugwell or Cass Sunstein, but more likely by an insubordinate bloodsoaked general like Douglas MacArthur or Stanley McChrystal. When progressives become “enemies of the state,” they will rue the day they disarmed everybody outside of the state.
The kind of paranoid liberals who donate to the Southern Poverty Law Center hope that gun control will help the Feds ferret and stamp out right-wing political extremists. But, as Halbrook pointed out and historically illustrated above, it is precisely violent political extremists (and especially right-wing ones) who, along with common criminals (who often become the footsoldiers of the extremists), will be among the only ones not to hand over or even register their guns. So the left’s gun-grabbing could end up empowering the very wingnuts they want to crush by disarming everybody but the wingnuts, the cops, and the military. The wingnuts that progressives want the Feds to use gun control to crush might thereby become the Feds.
Progressives should be careful what they wish for, because the might get it, and find that they have also served themselves up to their adversaries, as sitting ducks on a silver platter.