Armenians, being Christian, were considered second-class citizens under the Muslim laws which prevaled in Ottoman Turkey. They had long been prohibited from possessing firearms (Simkin, et al., 1994, p.81). Between 1894 and 1896, the Armenian population was terrorized by the Sultan's forces after they tried to organize politically in order to secure better treatment from the authorities (Simkin, et al., 1994, p.80).
During the period of political instability, the "Young Turks" provided Armenian political parties with firearms to be used in their struggle against the Sultan (Simkin, et al., 1994, p.81).
In 1909, the "Young Turks" finally wrestled control of the government from the Sultan. In order to help secure their political position they introduced firearm control laws in 1910, which extended gun control to the entire population. The legislation banned the unauthorized manufacture and importation of weapons and the carrying of weapons, cartridges, gunpowder, or explosive substances (Simkin, et al., 1994, pp.80-81).
On 1 November, 1914, Turkey entered World War One on the side of Germany and Austria-Hungary. A disastrous military campaign against the Russians in 1915, combined with the presence of Armenian volunteers in the Russian army and flase rumours of Armenian espionage, have been identified as precipitating factors in the subsequent genocide (Simkin, et al., 1994, pp.80-82).
In 1915, Ottoman Turkey prohibited Armenians from possessing firearms and required that all weapons they did possess be surrendered to the government (Simkin, et al., 1994, p.91). Armenians were then deported to the interior of the country, where they died at the hands of government troops or from disease, exhaustion or starvation (Simkin, et al., 1994, p.83).