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Editorial: Use of fear

Fear is almost always a factor when it comes to the nation’s discussion about curbing our epidemic of gun violence.

That fear comes in two variations.

On one side is the fear that more people will senselessly die unless the nation does something to gain greater control of firearms, adopting such measures as limiting the size of munition magazines, the type of gun, instituting background checks on all gun purchasers, etc.

Then there’s the fear from others who worry about possible future wholesale infringement upon their Second Amendment freedom and where this might lead our government and society.

Leading the charge against almost all suggestions when it comes to reducing gun violence has been the National Rifle Association, which has been all too happy — and successful to date — in using fear to portray gun control as the opening for a future dictatorship here in America. High-ranking NRA officials, including Wayne Lapierre, head of the organization, have been all too willing to feed these future scenarios by pointing to Germany under Adolf Hitler and the Nazis. They often cite the Germans’ 1938 Weapons Law as corroboration to the thinking that Hitler used the law to gain and keep control of the country by disarming the populace, leading to the horrors of Nazis dictatorship.

But the NRA and others are ignoring the fact that this description simply isn’t true. Since this argument over guns first surfaced, historians — including University of Chicago law professor Bernard Harcourt in a Fordham Law Review article — have spent considerable time refuting it.

While it is true that under the Nazis, Jews and other targeted minorities were prohibited from owning guns, Harcourt wrote that “The 1938 revisions completely deregulated the acquisition and transfer of rifles and shotguns, as well as ammunition.”

That made it easier, not harder, for non-Jews to buy and sell weapons.

With this said, the American public did get a glimpse of what life under a dictatorship would look like — from the NRA at its press conference to announce its plan regarding armed guards at all of our schools.

Held at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., reporters were treated to the sight of a dozen security officers, some uniformed, some not, some with gun holsters exposed, others hiding their weapons, who checked credentials, examined handbags, told reporters to get out of the lobby when NRA officials passed and cautioned photographers not to take pictures.

That kind of security and attempt to control the press sounds a lot more like Nazi Germany to us than the NRA’s boogeyman.

And that’s something we should really be afraid of.

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