Well, this is a perfectly damning indictment of gun control laws, except for two minor problems:
- Hitler almost certainly didn’t say this, and
- Hitler relaxed gun control laws; he did not strengthen them.
The Weimar Republic, which preceded Hitler’s regime, enacted rigid gun control laws in the wake of World War I. Under the Weimar laws, no private German citizen was allowed to own a firearm. According to Alex Seitz-Wald writing in Slate, the law was relaxed a bit in 1928 so that private citizens could own firearms, but only after jumping through numerous regulatory hoops. In 1938, gun ownership was completely deregulated – especially for members of the Nazi party – by one Adolf Hitler.
So Hitler did exactly the opposite of what this meme implies. The only people who were not allowed to own firearms under Hitler’s Nazi party were – you guessed it – Jews and other persecuted minorities.
Now the gun rights advocates may argue that if Jews had been given access to firearms, they could have prevented the Holocaust. That’s doubtful. Entire nations fell before the Nazis’ war machine; it’s very unlikely that poor Jews living in ghettos could have organized an effective resistance. Had the Jews been armed, they could have killed a few Nazi oppressors, but at what price? Conflicts between Nazis and armed Jews were extremely one-sided. During the 1943 Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, only about 20 German soldiers were killed; meanwhile, roughly 13,000 Jewish resistance fighters were slaughtered, a ratio of about 650 resistance fighters for every 1 German soldier. Some 57,000 other Jewish and Polish fighters were promptly deported to concentration camps.
So this meme is factually, historically, intellectually, and in all other ways incorrect. Why in the world would somebody create this meme as an argument against gun control laws?
Invoking Hitler has become the “nuclear option” of online debating. If you don’t have a convincing argument to support your position, you can always compare your opponent’s stance to that of Adolf Hitler. It doesn’t even matter if Hitler actually did or said anything similar to what your opponent is proposing; you can just make stuff up, apparently.
You think a woman should have the right to make her own reproductive decisions? Well, guess who else was in favor of abortions…Adolf Hitler!
You think Black Friday sales events have become too extreme and ought to be regulated to protect the health and safety of shoppers? Well you know who else wanted to regulate the free market? Adolf Hitler!
Oh, you prefer Coke to Pepsi? You know who else liked Coke better? Adolf Hitler!
The problem with mentioning Hitler, besides the fact that it completely ends any possibility for rational debate, is that Hitler’s opinions on things do not necessarily make those things good or evil. Complex social issues have to be evaluated on their own terms, not based on whether Adolf Hitler would have espoused them or not. No matter where you stand on the gun control debate, try to refrain from bringing long-dead dictators into the conversation. But if you must recall the words of Hitler, please do your homework first.