[2] Gary Kleck, Point Blank: Guns and Violence in America, New York NY, Aldine de Gruyter, 1991, p6

Professor Kleck is a member of Amnesty International USA and the American Civil Liberties Union and is not, and has never been, affiliated with any pro- or anti-gun advocacy group. In 1993, Point Blank was awarded the American Society of Criminology's Hindelang Award as "the most important contribution to criminology in three years".

"Citizen control" and not "crime control" has often driven the demand for restrictive firearm legislation.

Gun Control as evident today in Canada and most foreign nations originated in the southern United States following the American Civil War as a method of denying firearms to emancipated slaves, leaving them defenceless against assaults by whites. New York's "Sullivan Law" of 1911 was introduced for the unstated, but very real purpose of providing legal justification to deny firearms to Blacks, Italians, and the Irish.

Gun control legislation became increasingly severe in western democracies, including the Commonwealth countries of Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, following the Russian revolution in 1917. In Canada, labour unrest following World War One combined with a fear of "Bolshevism" and subsequent civil disturbances such as the Winnipeg General Strike (foreign born "agitators" were blamed for the violence) prompted the federal government to introduce gun control laws requiring "aliens" to obtain a permit to possess any gun.

In 1920, this requirement was extended to all persons for all types of guns but was repealed in 1921 when the domestic situation had calmed. Canadian needed a permit only to carry or purchase handguns.

Registration of handguns began in Canada in 1934, at the height of the Great Depression and the government's fears of communism, "gangsterism", and more importantly, civil insurrection. (There is evidence that citizen compliance with handgun registration in 1934 was not entirely successful; principally, the continued reporting by heirs of old, unregistered handguns in the effects of deceased relatives.)

The Firearms Acquisition Certificate (FAC) system was introduced to Canadians in 1977. Copied from earlier gun control laws in Great Britain, it effectively diverted public attention from the abolition of capital punishment in 1976.

Registration of rifles and handguns also began in Great Britain shortly after World War One. In 1968, legislation was introduced requiring purchasers of shotguns to obtain a police certificate (similar to an FAC), also diverting the public's attention from the abolition of capital punishment in the United Kingdom in 1965.

[Sources: Gary Mauser and Michael Margolis, "The politics of gun control: comparing Canadian and American patterns", Government and Policy Vol. 10, 1992, pp. 189-209; Gary Mauser and Allan D. Olmsted, "Canadian Gun Laws: Peace, Order, and Good Government?", (paper presented to the American Society of Criminology, New Orleans, Louisiana, Nov. 1992); Don B. Kates, Jr. "Towards a History of Handgun Prohibition in the United States", pp. 7-30, in Restricting Handguns: The Liberal Skeptics Speak Out, (NY: North River Press, 1979); David Kopel, The Samurai, The Mountie, and The Cowboy: Should America Adopt the Gun Controls of Other Democracies, Prometheus Books, 1992), pp. 70-88, pp. 136-148, p. 195, pp. 233-240; Don B. Kates, Jr. "Comparisons Among Nations and Over Time", pp. 36-43 in Guns, Murder, and the Constitution: A Realistic Assesment of Gun Control, (Pacific Research Institute for Public Policy, 1990); and B. Bruce-Briggs, "The Great American Gun War", The Public Interest No. 45, Fall, 1976, pp. 37-62.]

In the aftermath of World War One, Germany was plagued by escalating political violence, primarily between Communists and Nazis. The democratic government of teh Weimar republic responded by introducing comprehensive gun control laws in 1928. Under this legislation, every lawful firearm owner in Germany, and the guns and ammunition they possessed, would be known to the authorities.

The "Law on Firearms and Ammunition" required the registration of all persons involved in any activity which involved firearms and ammunition. All firearms were registered. Special permits were necessary to acquire either firearms or ammunition.

Restrictions were introduced on the amount of ammunition an individual could possess. The reloading of shotshell, rifle and handgun ammunition was considered the same as "manufacturing" and required a seperate permit.

Permits to acquire or carry firearms were issued only to persons of "undoubted reliability". The applicant was required to demonstrate "proof of need" before a permit would be issued allowing transportation to a firing range or hunting area. "Gypises" and other "itinerants" were forbidden to possess firearms. Individuals unable to comply with the new regulations were required to surrender their guns and ammunition to the authorities.

The violence continued despite these restrictions.

In March, 1931, the "Law Against the Unauthorized Use of Weapons" made it illegal for anyone to possess or carry any truncheon or stabbing weapon outside their home or business. In December of that year, the legislation was revised, making it a requirement that persons wishing to obtain these weapons apply for a licence similar to a firearm possession/acquisition certificate.

Police were given the authority to seize all firearms and ammunition in any area where "the maintenance of public security and order requires it". "Proof of need" was now amde a condition to the issuance of all firearm licenses.

In the elections of 5 March, 1933, Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party received only 44% of the total vote. They maintained political power through a fragile coalition with the Nationalist Party, giving them a slim 16 seat majority in the Reichstag.

Hitler recognized that the Nazis were not especially popular. Another democratic election would scuttle their plans for power.

On 23 March, 1933, Hitler arranged for the "absense" of all politicians not sympathetic to his party, allowing the passage of an "enabling act" giving the Nazis emergency powers under the Constitution. Hitler's dictatorship was now completely legal. There would not be another democratic election in Germany until after the Second World War.

Upon achieving absolute political power, the Nazis were quick to use the firearm laws enacted by the previous democratic governments to confiscate firearms from individuals and organizations they considered "subversive"

"When Hitler addressed the Reichstag on January 30, 1934, he could look back on a year of achievement without parallel in German history. Within twelve months he had overthrown the Weimar republic, substituted his personal dictatorship for its democracy, destroyed all the politcal parties but his own, smashed the state governments and their parliaments and unified and defederalized the Reich, wiped out the labor unions, stamped out democratic associations of any kind, driven the Jews out of public and professional life, abolished freedoms of speech and of the press, stifled the independance of the courts and "coordinated" under Nazi rule the political, economic, cultural, and social life of an ancient and cultivated people."

Shirer, The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich p. 296

It wasn't until March, 1938, with Germany preparing for war, that the Nazis introduced their own gunlontrols based, in large part, on the legislative and bureaucratic framework provided by the previous democracies.

The Nazi "Weapons Law" barred Jews from the firearm business.

Anyone who "resisted government authority" or "endangered public security" was prohibited from possessing any weapons. Weapons they did possess were to be confiscated without compensation.

For the first time handguns were specifically singled out for special restrictions; however, Nazi Party organizations were exempt from any gun controls. For all intents and purposes, only Nazis and those sympathetic to them were permitted to own or carry weapons.

On 11 November, 1938, one day after the SS and SA had burned Jewish synagogues and looted property owned by Jews (Kristallnacht - the night of broken glass), amendments were made to the Weapons Law forbidding Jews from possessing firearms of any kind. Firearms and amjunition were to be confiscated without compensation by any and all means available. (Two days prior to Kristallnach, Nazi authorities had begun confiscating weapons from Jewish homes and businesses. In Berlin alone they seized 2,569 swords and daggers, 1,702 firearms and 20,000 rounds of ammunition.)

By the end of 1938, the fabric of gun control in the Third Reich was complete. In the short span of only ten years, Germany had devolved from a system of casual gun controls to virtual prohibition - with selective enforcement against minorties and dissidents.

[Sources: William L. Shirer, The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich: A History of Nazi Germany, (Fawcett Crest Books, 1959), pp. 167-385, pp. 580-587; Anthony Read and David Fisher, Kristallnacht: The Nazi Night of Terror, (Times Books, 1989), p. 64, pp. 68-109; and Jay Simkin and Aaron Zelman, "Gun Control": Gateway to Tyranny, (Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership, Milwaukee, WI, 1993), pp. 14-81.]