Where civilians were concerned, Nazi Germany in the 1920’s was the model gun free society and by the late 1930’s, it was even better. By then it had evolved into a place where guns were much less regulated, but prevented the “” getting hold of them.
From 1918-1920, … the nation was forced to accept a series of devastating reparations after signing the Treaty of Versailles. The treaty had stipulations to disarm the government. Fearing inability to hold the state together during the depression, the German government adopted a sweeping series of gun confiscation legislation against the citizens prior to completely disarming the German military. Article 169 of the Treaty of Versailles explicitly targeted the state: “Within two months from the coming into force of the present Treaty, German arms, munitions, and war material, including anti-aircraft material, existing in Germany in excess of the quantities allowed, must be surrendered to the Governments of the Principal Allied and Associated Powers to be destroyed or rendered useless.”
In 1919, the German government passed the Regulations on Weapons Ownership, which declared that “all firearms, as well as all kinds of firearms ammunition, are to be surrendered immediately.” Under the regulations, anyone found in possession of a firearm or ammunition was subject to five years’ imprisonment and a fine of 100,000 marks.
On August 7, 1920, rising fears whether or not Germany could have rebellions prompted the government to enact a second gun-regulation law called the Law on the Disarmament of the People. It put into effect the provisions of the Versailles Treaty in regard to the limit on military-type weapons.
In 1928, after a near decade of hyperinflation destroyed the structural fabric of the society, a rapidly expanding three-way political divide between the conservatives, National Socialists, and Communists prompted the rapidly declining conservative majority to enact the Law on Firearms and Ammunition. This law relaxed gun restrictions and put into effect a strict firearm licensing scheme. Under this scheme, Germans could possess firearms, but they were required to have separate permits to do the following: own or sell firearms, carry firearms (including handguns), manufacture firearms, and professionally deal in firearms and ammunition. This law explicitly revoked the 1919 Regulations on Weapons Ownership, which had banned all firearms possession.
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.”
The legal age at which guns could be purchased was lowered from 20 to 18.
Permits were valid for three years, rather than one year. 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. Jews were prohibited from possessing any dangerous weapons, including firearms. They were also forbidden from the manufacturing or dealing of firearms and ammunition. 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 all Jews living in those locations of the right to possess firearms or other weapons.