The Forgotten Amendment

About Curt Varone

Curt Varone has over 40 years of fire service experience and 30 as a practicing attorney licensed in both Rhode Island and Maine. His background includes 29 years as a career firefighter in Providence (retiring as a Deputy Assistant Chief), as well as volunteer and paid on call experience. He is the author of two books: Legal Considerations for Fire and Emergency Services, (2006, 2nd ed. 2011, 3rd ed. 2014) and Fire Officer's Legal Handbook (2007), and is a contributing editor for Firehouse Magazine writing the Fire Law column.
  • Andrew

    Morning, Chief Varone. You just KNOW this is gonna start all kinds of firestorms.

    One comment, though. Various historical documents have shown repeatedly that gun ownership regulations were much looser under the Nazis. The only people prohibited from owning weapons were — not surprisingly — Jews. Other than that, the Nazis pretty much gutted the restrictions imposed by the Weimar Republic as a result of WW I.

    From Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nazi_gun_control#The_1938_German_Weapons_Act):

    The 1938 German Weapons Act, the precursor of the current weapons law, superseded the 1928 law.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. 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.” But under the new law:

    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.”[4]

    The legal age at which guns could be purchased was lowered from 20 to 18.[5]
    Permits were valid for three years, rather than one year.[5]

    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.[4]

    Jews were forbidden from the manufacturing or dealing of firearms and ammunition.[4]

    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.

    On November 11, 1938, the Minister of the Interior, Wilhelm Frick, promulgated Regulations Against Jews’ Possession of Weapons. This regulation effectively deprived Jews of the right to possess firearms or other weapons.[6][7]
    [citations and footnotes omitted]

    And now that Godwin’s Law has raised its head once again…

    I’m going for coffee.

    I’ll be back later to see how badly I’m getting mauled here. I hope we can agree to disagree on this one. You’re one of the few lawyers I respect.

  • Jim Panknin

    Just to play a bit of the Devil’s advocate here.

    While it is true that the general German population wasn’t dis-armed, the Jewish population was and that, combined with Hitler’s ability to convince the general population that the Jews were the reason for their strife, enabled the Nazis to conduct the Holocaust. So there is a correlation to the purported fear of losing the 2nd amendment right to bear arms.

    In addition, did you know that there was essentially the same restrictions in the U.S.? After the Constitution was ratified, slaves were not allowed have firearms. That’s right, all men were not created equal in this country. Even after the Civil War and Emancipation Proclamation and the direct word that any soldier, including ex slaves who fought for the Union, could take their service weapon home. In the southern states law enforcement forced their way in to the homes of freed men and took their weapons. It wasn’t until sometime in, I believe, the 50′ or 60’s that the 2nd Amendment was finally a right allowed of ALL Americans.

    Both examples show absolutely how a people can be repressed without the right to defend themselves.

    • Andrew

      Jim, what you say about the South is absolutely correct. Some researchers claim that the Second Amendment’s militia clause was put in place to allow armed posses to hunt down escaped slaves, who — as you point out — did not have the legal right to possess weapons.

      My comment on the Nazi comparison was primarily to point out a fallacy that is common in *some* pro-gun arguments. Some writers claim — incorrectly — that the Nazis disarmed everyone except themselves, which “allowed” them to seize control of Germany. First, the Nazis rose to power through the elctoral process (albeit abetted by a fair amount of skullduggery), second, they did *not* disarm the vast majority of Germans – quite the contrary, they re-legalized (is that a word) the right of most German citizens to be armed.

      Of gun, all gun control issues aide, the Holocaust was inexcusable, and I am ashamed that my German forebears fell for that demagogue Hitler and his bat-sh!t crazy program.

      (As a complete aside, can’t you just SEE Chief Varone, sitting back and enjoying every moment of this, as he sips his Scotch?)

      • Andrew

        … and that should read, “Of COURSE, all gun control issues…”

        Time for more coffee.

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