Armed and Very Dangerous

The recent shoot-out in Waco, Texas, prompts me to share some observations about the ubiquity of guns in America, and the near-religious fervor with which an unrestricted right to bear arms is defended. (I’m well aware that I may regret writing this; my only previous foray into the issue, on this blog, prompted responses that were by far the most uncivil and threatening I have ever received. And I used to run Indiana’s ACLU.)

A couple of caveats: Perfectly reasonable people may have different opinions about the purpose and reach of the Second Amendment, and what restrictions on gun ownership are both socially prudent and constitutional. Many responsible people own firearms, for a variety of eminently defensible reasons.

This blog isn’t about those people.

In fact, even though this post was triggered by the motorcycle gang violence in Waco, it isn’t intended to be directly responsive to that event, either; rather, you might think of it as a meditation on America’s inability to approach even the most reasonable discussions of gun rights and public safety with anything other than hysteria and hyperbole.

This hasn’t always been the case. In 1968, for example, President Johnson signed a sweeping national gun control law; in 1993, Congress passed the Brady Act. There have been others.

But during the past few decades, these federal laws have been substantially weakened and the gun lobby has advanced multiple state-level initiatives expanding gun “rights” well beyond what my generation considered reasonable– measures to permit concealed weapons, to allow people to take weapons into businesses (including bars and despite the objections of the property owners), and to invalidate campus rules against weapons. Iowa even passed a measure allowing people who are blind to obtain gun permits.

Perhaps the most troubling element of this landscape has been the growth of so-called “open carry” laws. Want to sling your AK47 over your shoulder when you go to the grocery? Sure thing!  In the wake of passage of these laws, groups of heavily armed men have “exercised their constitutional rights” by showing up in the aisles of establishments like Target and Walmart.

These displays of machismo are not unconnected to the (increasingly bizarre) conspiracy theories that have mushroomed in the wake of President Obama’s election. “Obama is going to confiscate our guns!”  “Jade Helm is a plot—Obama is planning to bring in the U.N. and take over Texas!”

Racism is clearly a factor in these and similar conspiracies being promoted in the more fetid precincts of the Internet, but racism doesn’t explain all of the paranoia.

Fear does.

We live in a time of dramatic and unprecedented social change, with a corresponding loss of what scholars call agency. Agency is personal efficacy, confidence that we are in charge of our own lives, the masters of our own fates, in possession of a measure of control over what happens to us.

Americans wake up every morning to a world that is less familiar and more disorienting; a world resistant to attempts at control. Meanwhile, the Internet inundates us with evidence that our social institutions—especially but not exclusively government—cannot be trusted. People who’ve been told their whole lives that they’ll do well if they work hard and play by the rules—most of  whom have dutifully proceeded to work hard and play by the rules—have seen their wages stagnate and their life prospects dim.

Some Americans respond to this social landscape by “opting out,” by retreating from civic life. Others– frightened people trying to make sense of an unfamiliar world– take refuge in “explanations” for their distress: a War on Christians, welfare mothers, Sharia law…  At the extreme, folks with paranoid tendencies believe their lives depend upon their ability to arm themselves against the “enemy,” the United Nations, immigrants, terrorists, the federal government….and especially, the terrifying unknown.

So they swagger down the aisles of the local Target with guns over their shoulders and strapped to their hips, and tee-shirts that say “Don’t Tread on Me.”

Sad. And very dangerous.


  1. What we are observing in Waco is the continuing virulent mutation of the new strain of the Hitler Virus. It mutates in all directions. The major “medium” for releasing the meme has long been the pulpits of the fundamentalist preachers.

    Baylor University, located in Waco, has long been the academic center of the religious fervor within the Baptists of Texas. It’s probably??? no coincidence that MORE than one mass shooting would culminate in Waco or at least on the southern side of Dallas.

  2. Some friends and family stated I could have protected myself last year when I was mugged and robbed on my driveway at 11:00 in the morning. The fact is; it happened so fast and I was 77, deaf and disabled and thought the mugger wanted directions – had I owned and carried a gun there would have been another armed nutcase on the streets of Indianapolis. We keep reading about the terrible incidents of young chldren, even toddlers, getting hold of their parent’s gun and shooting siblings or parents. I want to see stories of people carrying guns for protection who have actually protected themselves with their gun to justify this protection claim touted by the NRA and supporters.

    Rationality, logic, common sense and priorities have been blown away by the NRA and their supporters the past few years; often via the idiotic media and Facebook postings plus on line newsletters containing fear mongering regarding imaninary loss of weaponry. This is of course another of those “follow the money” situations. One newsletter passed on to me from a friend who had received it from a friend, et al, was attributed to American Rifle Magazine and stated President Obama was passing a law that would not allow American citizens to purchase ammunition in any form. I researched American Rifle Magazine and found no article referring to President Obama or ammunition. Did futher research through the NRA web site and again found nothing; searched for American Rifle Magazine through the NRA web site and still nothing. Informed my friend who was highly upset with me – said if E-mails from her friend upset me she just wouldn’t send them again. I appreciated this promise but was upset that my friend missed entirely the point of my research and message to her. Another mind set in staunch Republicans that blinds and deafens them to facts and reality.

    So far the only open carry I have seen was in an east side pancake house; a grossly overweight, heavily bearded, long-haired hulk of a man had a large handgun strapped to his belt. It was positioned next to his huge butt crack where pants had slid down and too small tee shirt had ridden up. Didn’t scare me but did effect my appetite for breakfast. I commented on that situation on Sheila’s earlier blog and caught some flack; most people understood it was the appearance of the gun slinger that was the point; plus the fact that he felt a need to display his weapon in full view. The years I owned and carried a handgun (with carry permit); it was with me at all times. I felt no need to display it and, yes, I did draw it once and aim it at a group of teenage boys who had surrounded my car at a red light one night, pulling on door handles and one sat on the hood of my car making threatening gestures. Luckily they were not armed but they were fast on their feet – ran in all directions when I pulled my handgun from behind my back on the seat. My concern was, if I had to use the gun, I would have to shoot through the windshield and would the shattered glass cut my best friend and I. I had been trained in the use and care of my handgun so was comfortable with it. This should be required of everyone who is not familiar with guns when they purchase one. But, that is logical thinking.

  3. You have to understand certain parts of Texas. They still use guns to make their points. That’s just part of the territory.

    For a short time I had a title office/law office in Cedar Hill on the southern side of Dallas and the northern side of Waco.

    Major disputes were settled with a gun. I’m not kidding. Ask my ex-wife Pam. Boy was she “pissed off” when I came home one evening with a bullet in the middle of the back trunk of her brand new Volvo.

    At least back then, I had the FBI on my side. I’m not sure about that now.

  4. Twenty years ago, when I was serving as mayor of my suburban town, I learned that one of our city employees kept a loaded gun in his unlocked desk. I suggested that he keep it at home and he claimed it was his constitutional right to keep it there. In response, I had an ordinance prepared to keep the city building a gun-free zone. At the next council meeting when that ordinance was introduced, the room overflowed with NRA types, some openly carrying weapons. They filled the council chambers and then began trying to fill in the space behind me and the council members, at which time the police moved them back away from us. It was the largest audience in my term as mayor. They were visibly angry and even critized our American flag, because it had gold fringe on it. They claimed that was evidence of some left-wing conspiracy to limit their rights. Needless to say, the council was totally intimidated and voted down the ordinance.

  5. The fear Sheila speaks of goes to more than just the “this world doesn’t look the same” mental state. As Michael Moore noted in Bowling for Columbine, the fear can be a bit simpler. People are afraid that they are going to be the victims of crime. The news blares headlines about violent home invasions, murders, etc. News about a home invasion in Indianapolis would fail to mention that there were a million people or so who had a much calmer day. But the news creates the impression that “it could happen to me,” even though the odds of it happening are somewhat akin to the odds of being struck by lightning.

    I’ve also seen a remarkable dichotomy in some of the folks who feel the need to have a personal arsenal. They are afraid that the government won’t be able to protect them, yet they fear that the government is going to take their guns away. As John Stewart likes to point out, either the county police are impotent or they are extremely powerful. They can’t be both at the same time.

    Even though I’ve been a lawyer for 23+ years, handling a good number of unhappy family law cases along the way, I’ve never felt the need to buy a handgun. There have been a few times when I’ve mused about whether it would be wise to buy a bullet-proof vest, though—when a party had a hearing go against them and they were particularly unhappy at that moment, for example.

    What’s interesting to me is that a good number of security experts say there are more practical tools for protecting one’s home against intruders than handguns or even the so-called assault rifles. I once found a personal security manual published by the British Special Air Service (the bargain table at Barnes & Noble). The authors said a homeowner is better off with a good size dog with a loud bark and a baseball bat or golf club. If you wanted a firearm, they suggested a pump shotgun because the sound of it being readied is enough to make most intruders wet themselves.

    So, the fear issue is definitely a piece that has to be addressed. But we ought to be able to do it sanely and calmly as we work through things. Maybe if we could cause Fox News, MSNBC, CNN, et al. to lose power for a few weeks we would have an opportunity to discuss it rationally for a while.

  6. For all of you out there who own a gun, keep it in the house for protection and toughen your stand by telling one and all that you will use it, here is something to think about long and hard. If you are a moral, decent human being how do you think you will feel after you kill another human being? What do you think happens to your soul when you take another’s life? Why do police officers who are trained in using violence ordered to desk duty after a shooting and have to go to counseling? Do you gun owners think beyond the moment of adenaline high to the next morning? The next month? The next year? Will you brag about killing that person? Will you defend yourself by telling your family and friends that the person you killed “deserved it”? That at least you are alive? What if someone dies by a gunshot wound because of an accident with your gun? Do you think you can live with that? Or will you spend the rest of your life serving a life sentence of self doubt and regret?

  7. Bill,

    What you say is correct. But you’re changing the subject. How are you going to “be able to do it sanely and calmly” at the face of gun from your opposition. They’re not going to voluntarily change their tactics. Not when they work so well.

    Sheila acknowledged your concerns. The use of guns for intimidation as Margaret alluded to is more to the point, I believe, that concerns Sheila. It’s not the only point, but goes to the future well being of our “tattered and in threads” democracy.

  8. From another perspective, the issue of whether possession of a gun makes a person safer has been debated by both sides. One of the problems with the debate is both sides seem to rely on spotty or questionable data to support their position. Has some brilliant social scientist designed a study that unequivocally answers the question? What we have now for evidence is lacking.

    My own view is that the greater the number of guns in the population as a whole, the greater the probability that a gun will be used in a crime or used to kill, so reducing the total number of guns will reduce crime and deaths from their use. Hard data would help everyone.

  9. Thank you Theresa for your sobering comment on this thread. I have weighted the options of personal hand gun protection and those questions always stopped me from ever purchasing or owning one. I don’t live in Fear. When my time is up, it’s up and hopefully, I will be peacefully asleep when that times comes, in about 30-50 yrs or so. Cheers.

  10. When I was born, civilization was ending the transition from hunting/gathering as a necessity to it as a nostalgic hobby. So, interestingly enough was the auto industry transitioning from cars as a practical solution to transportation needs to them as an early form of Viagra.

    Both industries felt the threat and turned to brand marketing for salvation. The gun industry to the NRA and the auto industry to NASCAR, Indy, and the early auto porn magazines like Car and Driver and Hot Rod (interesting wording, no?).

    Magic demand was created and averted declining profits.

    There is no Second Amendments issue. It’s a fabrication of the NRA and, perhaps surprisingly, it worked fabulously and kept the gun factories churning them out for at least 100 years longer.

    Of course decades later Al Qaida and ISIS learned the lessons and relocated the demand to the Middle East and the issue from Constitutionality to the expectations of Allah.

    Now we’re here. The NRA branded (nice word choice again) mythical cowboys downsized from horses to Harleys playing the testosterone card in an East Texas restaurant

    Apparently losing the freedom to think for ourselves has consequences. Who knew?

  11. “Want to sling your AK47 over your shoulder when you go to the grocery? Sure thing! In the wake of passage of these laws, groups of heavily armed men have “exercised their constitutional rights” by showing up in the aisles of establishments like Target and Walmart.”

    No, Sheila. Open carry is illegal in Texas, as open carry concerns handguns. There have been very few laws passed to concern openly carrying rifles. People are openly carrying rifles in Texas because they’d rather be able to carry a pistol in a holster without having to have a shirt fully cover the handgun. Texas is hot. Clothes are loose, but if the handgun you’re carrying in Texas under the authority of your concealed-carry permit becomes the slightest bit exposed, such as the grip peeking through while you move around or bend over, you can get arrested for open carrying and your gun confiscated.

    Open carry a carbine, the problem is solved, and a statement is made. This is a Texas issue with Texas peculiarities that you don’t understand, so you’re engaging in uninformed sniping from 1,000 miles away.

    AK47s are very hard to find in the United States.

    What’s the line between “armed” and “heavily armed,” or is that throwaway sensationalism? Would you allow a student to include such ungrounded, loaded and imprecise language in an academic submission?

    “Perfectly reasonable people may have different opinions about the purpose and reach of the Second Amendment”

    No, Sheila, they don’t. The Amendment is clear. Only people who don’t like it try to find confusion in it. It’s amazing how the same people who cannot find a clear right to firearm ownership in an amendment that says exactly that can clearly find an unambiguous and unfettered right to gay marriage and abortion in other amendments, though not a word of those subjects is mentioned or suggested in any amendment.

    “you might think of it as a meditation on America’s inability to approach even the most reasonable discussions of gun rights and public safety with anything other than hysteria and hyperbole.”

    So that’s your sociological takeaway on Waco? Not that the country has fallen to Hell. People have no opportunities. Adult males have no economic opportunities. Life is stressed and on edge. The cops and drug war have turned the streets to war zones. Not any of these more applicable analyses? Straight to guns, huh?

    Your next few paragraphs made an attempt at understand current challenges, but you then resorted to this:

    “So they swagger down the aisles of the local Target with guns over their shoulders and strapped to their hips, and tee-shirts that say “Don’t Tread on Me.””

    Your conflating groups. The biker gangs will NEVER open carry a rifle – ANYWHERE! Certainly not in Wal-mart. Too much attention. When you’re flying colors with a three-piece, that’s all the statement you need to make. The open rifle carriers, by contrast, will be some of the most law-abiding people you will ever find who will never get into a shootout. Many of those rifles aren’t loaded.

    When a real cop sees colors and a three-piece, that’s someone he watches very closely. Run him out of town, if you can. When a real cop sees a rifle on a guy in a Wal-Mart, he just waits and watches him get into his Accord and drive back to the suburbs.

  12. Margaret A. McGovern; when I was licenced and carried a handgun it was because I went to work while it was till dark and getting dark when I left for home. I parked in a raggedy parking lot called “the ramp” which was not safe south of the the City County Building. My ex-husband was stalking me at the time, there was a series of rapes across the street from police headquarters in Market Square Arena parking lot…what good was my gun going to do me locked in my car or at home? I did not like or want to carry a gun but understood the need for one at the time. When I became disabled and moved to Florida; I sold the gun. Haven’t had or wanted one since;; not sorry I didn’t have a gun last year when I was attacked and robbed. In my physical condition, deaf and age 78, it wouldn’t be safe for me to be armed. I am not a gun-totin’ Anney Oakley type but do understand why many law abiding, intelligent, sensible residents actually need to be armed for protection. There is no need for military type weapons anywhere but the military and those who strut around with huge guns hanging from different areas of their body are probably the type who should have been denied buying a gun if we had decent background checks.

  13. Fear is one motivator. Machismo is another. Folks can get hyperbolic on any issue, but when gun enthusiasts write threatening letters against gun control, they don’t seem to realize their elevated hostility is the very reason others feel gun control is necessary. We don’t want overheated folks using a gun when their emotions are out of control.

  14. The world is changing like it always has. We’ve all experienced massive change but fear any more. Today we know what we’re doing. Why can’t that be extended to tomorrow?

    God gave us brains to deal with, in fact cause, change. The only danger is in leaving the thinking up to others.

    Open carry puts everyone at greater risk. The intellectual equivalent, life long learning, reduces everyone’s risk.

    If everyone’s worst fear is realized and we are faced with Armeggedon it will be because we let the least of us think for the most of us.

    Democracy is the right to bear and use brains. The most powerful force on earth. Mountains can be moved by thoughts.

    Think for yourself and risk will be rendered impotent.

  15. We know that for every 23 incidents in which a gun is fired in a house, only one of them is in defense, and half of those are provoked by the gun owner. The other 22 involve accidental shootings and suicides. My rights notwithstanding, there many many more people who, after the smoke clears, deeply regret that a handgun was in their home than the number who are glad they had it.

    Another important fact is that people fantasize themselves as the Lone Ranger, shooting with deadly accuracy, when in practice, hitting a target with a handgun is difficult, even with regular training, practice and the best conditions. It’s especially difficult when it’s 3:00 a.m., one is scared, in the dark and likely carrying strange perceptions of reality. Forensic research on the use of weapons by police is very clear on that. In the end, the bad guy may have been your kid coming in late.

    So, I guess it’s your right to keep that loaded handgun (80% are owned by men, and the average gun owner owns about 8 of them), but if you are a woman, you are six times more likely to be shot by your husband, lover or ex-spouse than a male stranger. In any case, you have to live with the fact that if a gun is fired in your home, there is a 95% chance that your family will have to live with a lot of regret and a whole lot of hurt.

  16. Gun control is a woman’s issue as Stuart mentioned. Congresswoman Gabby Gifford is one victim. Different circumstance but someone who survived. Barely.

  17. There’s one other reason why some fairly reasonable and law abiding people support the right to bear arms, and that is history. One of Hitler’s first actions when taking over a country was to take away citizens’ rifles and guns. This was well before he established ghettos and starting carting folks away to concentration camps. Some people do believe that if the citizenry is armed, this serves as a deterrent. It’s hard to argue against this logic. Yes, people will say, this is far-fetched, which is exactly what European Jews thought at the time, too.

  18. Natasha. The counter point to your argument in today’s world is what militarists call asymmetric warfare. The futility of guns and bullets against planes and drones and infinitely superior command and control.

  19. @Pete: the counter argument is that her point about Hitler taking all the guns is fabricated and bogus.

  20. I think we have heard that talking point many times–that one of Hitler’s first actions was to take away the firearms, so it could be somehow done here, or something like that, along with all of the implied scare. I understand that the Weimar Republic, the German government that immediately preceded Hitler’s, actually had tougher gun laws than the Nazi regime. “They’re coming for your guns” is such a silly myth anyway, because the 80 million gun owners have the cops and military outgunned 79 to 1. There is no realistic way all weapons could be confiscated, and using some “psych talk”, this is a cognitive distortion. To implement realistic and sane gun control and registration (Who needs automatic weapons, or 8 weapons per person?) is not the same as confiscating all the guns.

  21. Pete: Don’t you think that civilians have access to drones, too? Also, if planes are used for mass bombing, cities would be totally destroyed. What is the worth of what would be left? As I said, reasonable, law-abiding people recall what happened in Poland and that’s why they resist gun control. These people aren’t the problem with gun violence.

    Stuart: the argument as to automatic weapons, etc., is that you need fire to fight fire. Someone with a rifle or handgun is no match against someone with an automatic weapon.

    Kilroy: no, it isn’t bogus or fabricated. European Jews, many of whom were well-educated, business leaders, educators, artists, musicians, etc., never believed that the Nazis would do what they did, even as they were being dragged off to concentration camps. By the time the reality became obvious, they had no way to fight back, although they did try in the Polish ghetto.

  22. I do not like guns, I am afraid of guns, I will never again own and carry a gun but…I do NOT regret the time that my life was being threatened and needed a gun so I bought and carried one. That being said, I will post a quote from a sign in my Uncle Don’s gun shop; my uncle is Don Davis who owns Don’s Guns.

    “40 years of experience has taught me some things.

    *Indiana had the best gun laws in the U.S. 40 years ago. Today, the worst.

    *The sign at our store says, “if it’s ok with the President and Congress, the Mayor, the Chief of Police, what can Don do about it.”

    Don lobbied for years for some form of gun control on long guns; he and others (a few Senators) were ignored and the state of Indiana instead lowered requirements for purchasing handguns. He gave up the fight and is probably much richer today than before this state made it easier for almost anyone to buy any gun they could pay for.

    Bill; there is no reason for headlines to blare news about that million who were not victims of a home invasion, there is nothing to warn people about in that. Nor would there be any comfort to the victims of the home invasion you referred to to know about that million who were not invaded. As a victim – still being victimized by our local criminal justice system – my primary concern about the lack of charges filed against the man who violently attacked four elderly women in a two week period in a small area of the east side is this – the lack of charges showing his propensity for violence will not be known by the court or the public – if it ever goes to court. And there was no gun involved in these crimes; there was a great blaring of news for a brief period of time more than one year ago. The public needs to know when and where these crimes, especially involving guns, are happening as a reminder to be aware of your surroundings at all times, no matter where you are. These attacks are a call to some to rush out and get a gun; others have the opposite reaction. I know a gun would not have helped me a year ago April 21st; but after my husband tried to kill me three times and stalked me after the divorce – I felt the need to protect myself with a gun. I am glad it was never needed; it would be difficult to live with taking the life of anyone, even someone who was trying to take mine. Try living in fear 24/7, carrying on your normal work day and social life, behind iron bars at all doors and windows of your home and having a copy of that useless piece of paper – a “protective” order – with you at all times. The first thing a victim of abuse is asked is if she got a protective order; which police ignore. Owning a gun and locking it in your car or at home does not keep you safe on these streets or in your workplace where there have been so many killings. The on-going fears in Waco regarding gang retaliation cannot be compared to an individual living in fear of a specific person in their lives or being attacked by a total stranger on our streets or in our homes. We must each listen to our conscience regarding owning a gun for protection; but, please try to understand when someone does make the choice to buy and carry a gun.

    NOT an AK 47 slung over their shoulder at Kroger – please, people, hang onto your rationality on this issue.

  23. @Natasha: Please cite to any source other than some right-wing think tanks that support the argument that Hitler took “away citizens’ rifles and guns”. The actual laws passed in that time period show the exact opposite, as Stuart mentioned.

    If you have to resort to fabrications and lies to support your argument, you have already lost.

  24. So you end up with your automatic weapons against someone else’s automatic weapons? We are talking about the movies here, not the real world. I’m talking about a world where people can’t own a .22 handgun without accidentally (or on purpose) maiming or killing themselves or their relatives. Please understand that if an “ordinary” handgun goes off in your house, it’s a 95% chance that it will end up devastating the life of someone in your family, and most people with whom this has happened will regret it forever. And that’s not the movies. The idea of arguing automatic weapons is not even within the sphere of understanding of almost anyone, unless you are a director at Universal Studios.

  25. If anyone wants to own a handgun, that’s their business, but they should seriously examine their arguments for doing that. There are people out there telling lies just to scare people into buying an arsenal, but if you are going to be scared, it should be reality based. There is a possibility for regret there that will last forever, and life is too short and too important to invite disaster into your house.

  26. Full disclosure: I own 4 guns, but zero are located in my house with young children.

  27. Sheila: You really proved your point about how irrational people can get about the subject of guns.

  28. A little long but what Wikipedia has to say about German gun control.

    History of firearms restrictions in GermanyEdit

    The 1919 Treaty of VersaillesEdit
    From 1918 to 1920, with the defeat of Germany in World War I, the nation was forced to accept a series of devastating reparations after signing the Treaty of Versailles. The defeated Weimar government agreed to payments it did not have the ability to make, which would eventually lead to the 1920s inflationary depression. The treaty had stipulations to disarm the government. Fearing inability to hold the state together during the depression, the German government adopted a sweeping series of gun confiscation legislation against the citizens prior to completely disarming the German military. Article 169 of the Treaty of Versailles explicitly targeted the state: “Within two months from the coming into force of the present Treaty, German arms, munitions, and war material, including anti-aircraft material, existing in Germany in excess of the quantities allowed, must be surrendered to the Governments of the Principal Allied and Associated Powers to be destroyed or rendered useless.”[3]

    In 1919, the German government passed the Regulations on Weapons Ownership, which declared that “all firearms, as well as all kinds of firearms ammunition, are to be surrendered immediately.”[4] Under the regulations, anyone found in possession of a firearm or ammunition was subject to five years’ imprisonment and a fine of 100,000 marks.

    On August 7, 1920, rising fears whether or not Germany could have rebellions prompted the government to enact a second gun-regulation law called the Law on the Disarmament of the People. It put into effect the provisions of the Versailles Treaty in regard to the limit on military-type weapons.

    In 1928, after a near decade of hyperinflation destroyed the structural fabric of the society, a rapidly expanding three-way political divide between the conservatives, National Socialists, and Communists prompted the rapidly declining conservative majority to enact the Law on Firearms and Ammunition. This law relaxed gun restrictions and put into effect a strict firearm licensing scheme. Under this scheme, Germans could possess firearms, but they were required to have separate permits to do the following: own or sell firearms, carry firearms (including handguns), manufacture firearms, and professionally deal in firearms and ammunition. Furthermore, the law restricted ownership of firearms to “…persons whose trustworthiness is not in question and who can show a need for a (gun) permit.” This law explicitly revoked the 1919 Regulations on Weapons Ownership, which had banned all firearms possession.

    Gun regulation of the Third ReichEdit
    In Nazi Germany the March 1938 German Weapons Act, the precursor of the current weapons law, superseded the 1928 law. As under the 1928 law, citizens were required to have a permit to carry a firearm and a separate permit to acquire a firearm. But under the new law:[5]:673-674

    Gun restriction laws applied only to handguns, not to long guns or ammunition. The 1938 revisions completely deregulated the acquisition and transfer of rifles and shotguns, as was the possession of ammunition.
    The groups of people who were exempt from the acquisition permit requirement expanded. Holders of annual hunting permits, government workers, and NSDAP members were no longer subject to gun ownership restrictions. Prior to the 1938 law, only officials of the central government, the states, and employees of the German Reichsbahn Railways were exempted.
    The legal age at which guns could be purchased was lowered from 20 to 18.[6]
    Permits were valid for three years, rather than one year.[6]
    Manufacture of arms and ammunition continued to require a permit, with the revision that such permits would no longer be issued to Jews or any company part-owned by Jews. Jews were consequently forbidden from the manufacturing or dealing of firearms and ammunition.
    Under both the 1928 and 1938 acts, gun manufacturers and dealers were required to maintain records with information about who purchased guns and the guns’ serial numbers. These records were to be delivered to a police authority for inspection at the end of each year.

    Some German police used the 1928 “trustworthiness” clause to disarm Jews on the basis “the Jewish population ‘cannot be regarded as trustworthy'”.[5]:676 On November 11, 1938, the Regulations Against Jews’ Possession of Weapons was promulgated by Minister of the Interior, Wilhelm Frick. The regulation prohibited Jews from possessing firearms, ammunition, and other weapons.[5]:675

  29. The guns didn’t bring Hitler into power. He was voted in by having the largest minority of votes.

    But his tactics of fear helped destroy the Weimar Republic. First there was democracide, genocide came later.

    That’s the danger of the guns. They create fear. As Margaret pointed out so well, guns can have an overwhelming “chilling” effect on free speech. And that potential is not just limited to matters concerning the NRA.

  30. “So you end up with your automatic weapons against someone else’s automatic weapons?”

    You can get automatic weapons in the U.S.? Where? I mean, you can, kind of, but it’s the most expensive thing you can ever do.

  31. Right, Gopper. The whole automatic weapons issue is one of those straw men that are set up as arguments when automatic weapons are not the biggest problem. In 2012, of the 8855 firearm related homicides, 6371 were from handguns, but 61% of the firearm-related deaths were suicides. Most gun deaths are suicides, which make a suicidal impulse easier to carry out. One problem with using a gun for suicide, you can’t have second thoughts after pulling the trigger.

  32. My first experience with guns was when I was four years old. I was playing in the front yard with my neighbor’s children and knew that my mother was in the neighbor’s kitchen having coffee with the kids’ mother. We heard a loud bang about 15 feet from us in the front bedroom. We all screamed, it was so loud. My hysterical Mother came to the door and screamed at one of us kids to go across the street to get another neighbor’s Mother. Then the police came and then an ambulance with two men that carried a cart with a body covered in a sheet away to the morgue. My neighbor’s Dad used a rifle to blow his brains out and he was dead. His two daughters committed suicide by the time they were 35. One was a drug overdose and one was in the garage with the vehicle running, leaving two children of her own. The other child was a boy my age and he became a doctor. I was four years old when I had my first experience with guns and 51 yrs later, I remember it like it was yesterday.

  33. AgingLGirl; I don’t understand your point in relation to guns with this comment. Do you believe the father using a gun to commit suicide caused his daughters to commit suicide years later but in different manners?

    My first experience with guns was watching police shoot a rabid dog in my next door neighbor’s back yard when I was 5-6 years old. My first experience with guns gave me a feeling of protection; I still do not like guns, am afraid of them and do not want one again. Neither experience was pleasant for us as children but they gave us life-long different insights as to the value of being armed at times. Gun owning is not a black and white issue; but varying shades of gray. Whatever reason for owning weapons, right or wrong, President Obama and armed troopers are not going to storm every man’s castle and deprive him of weaponry…no matter what the GOP spouts in the media.

  34. I don’t want to get into these debates – I just want to add two remarks

    Pete – love the imagery – I have often made comments about people driving who seem to believe their virility is measured by the decibel level produced by their vehicle

    Sheila – another excellent analysis – a sad one, but true

  35. I agree with Chris Rock: Let the NRA have all the guns they want. Regulate bullets. Price them at about $100,000 per round. Then it would cost about half a million to kill someone!

    Guns don’t kill people. Bullets kill people!

  36. JoAnn, Yes, I believe that the father’s suicide caused their unhappiness later in life and affected them. One of the daughters was treated for bi-polar disorder and I’ve always wondered if her father had it too. You see, that illness runs in families. Keeping guns out of the mentally ill is a good thing in my opinion. I believe that this poor family was ruined by mental illness and the suicide by the father gave them permission to take their own lives when they were adults. You know, father did it, got relief, so why not the children? Cycles of despair and the first suicide sealed their fate. Maybe. It’s just sad.

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