By Alex Madajian
USA – -(Ammoland.com)- How many people would be free and alive today were it not for the legacy of gun control?
Conversations about gun control tend to deal with abstract future forecasts. It’s good pro-gun advocates are concerned about personal freedom, burdensome regulations, or punitive punishments, but…
It’s important to remember that millions of real people and their descendants would be alive today were it not for gun control paving the way for tyrannical regimes.
We often forget the human cost behind those statistics. I will never forget because entire branches of my family were wiped out due to gun control.
Both sides of my family are Armenian – which is an ethnic group from the Caucasus mountains who have lived there for over three thousand years. However, for about the last 600 years, they have lived under the shadow of the Turks. In the time of the Ottoman Empire, they treated my ancestors as second-class citizens – forcing them to pay special taxes and endure cruel humiliations. This discrimination, fostered for hundreds of years, helped paved the way for the event known as the Armenian Genocide.
But because it was a genocide, it was more than random killings or acts of terror. This was state-orchestrated through laws enacted by the government.
Although there were many cases of persecution by the state and other ethnic groups, the Armenians had a warrior culture and kept themselves armed with the weapons of the time. They knew danger was always present, and they knew how to fight. However, when the sultan of the Ottoman Empire fell and was replaced with the Young Turk regime, the Armenians were promised freedom and equality. They received neither.
At first, the government created by the Young Turks appeared to be modeled after a secular western democracy. The Armenians embraced their promises, and some even joined their government. During this time, the Ottomans started passing penal codes which created the groundwork for gun control. According to Ottoman code: “Those who, without permission, carry or sell such prohibited cartridges, weapons, gunpowder or explosive substances are also punished with imprisonment…and by taking a fine.” There also are similar regulations on manufacturing and references to gun licensing.
Not discriminatory from the start. They have no mention of Armenians. But once the regulations were on the books, it was not hard to institute them specifically on ethnic minorities. But once such regulations were on the books, it was not hard to institute them specifically on ethnic minorities. The Turks’ process was to round up the Armenians, demand they leave their belongings behind (for them to loot later), and force them to march through the desert to die. All of this was done under the guise of being for their own “safety.” Even though Turkey was in the middle of World War I, the Minister of War – Enver Pasha – signed an order that all Armenian soldiers fighting in the Turkish army be disarmed(1).
Shortly after, a systematic effort began to disarm all Armenians in the empire. According to an official proclamation(2) posted to the village of Trebizond:
Armenians are compelled to obey the government’s decisions. If there be any persons among them who dare to use arms against soldiers or gendarmes, arms will be used against such persons and they shall be “arrested dead.” Likewise, those who refuse to depart, disobeying the government’s decision and hiding themselves here and there, and those persons who hide them in their houses or feed them to help them to hide, will also be sent to Court Martial to be condemned to death… Armenians being prohibited to carry any firearms, they must surrender to the government all kinds of arms, pistols, bombs, and daggers that they have hidden in their houses or out of doors. The government has been informed about the quantity of these arms, and those persons who try to secrete them instead of delivering them up to the government will be very severely punished when the arms are discovered by the government.
Similar edicts were issued throughout Anatolia. Notice how they knew who owned the guns. One would like to assume they did not have a sufficiently advanced bureaucracy to have details on some of the more rural areas back in 1915, but with the small amount of gun control they had on the books, they were able to massacre millions with little or no resistance.
My great-grandfather’s brother, Hagop Madaghjian, details exactly how they enacted such edicts in his village of Tomarza(3):
Every man, having buried his weapon underground, was looking for a way of denial; some who saw their rescue in betrayal began to slander this or that one… In the name of the government, a notice was displayed in all areas demanding that every man surrender his weapon in person; otherwise, they would be condemned to death. Thus, in accordance with the announcement, all weapons, even hunting guns, were surrendered to the government. Yet, the matter was not resolved that way; there were repeated beatings and torture with demands for new weapons.
Virtually every Armenian member of my family’s ancestral village died in the death marches through the desert.
This April 24th will be the 107th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide, in which we will remember how the 1.5 million Armenians, and hundreds of thousands of Greeks, Assyrians, Chaldeans, Maronites, and other Christian minorities were mercilessly murdered by a genocidal regime. This evil was only possible with simple-sounding regulations, often touted today as nothing more than “common-sense solutions.” I’m a proud American citizen, and because I carry this history, I will do everything in my power to make sure this never happens in my adopted country.
We must repeal attempts by the government to regulate our absolute Constitutional right to keep and bear arms, which is explicitly underscored by the fact it “shall not be infringed.” I encourage support for state and federal legislation that allows more private firearm ownership, such as Constitutional Carry or Second Amendment Sanctuary Laws. Right now, the American government has a registry containing nearly a billion records of lawful gun owners. Every name in that registry will be a target if the government decides to turn against them.
As I just explained, the possibility of that happening is never zero. Contact your senators and representatives urging them to cosponsor legislation like Congressman Michael Cloud’s No REGISTRY Rights Act, which will end the American gun registry for good. One would think we would learn from the past and never enable our government to have the same power the Turks had over my family. But chillingly, our government has all the resources as the Turks – and far more.
- Zürcher, Erik J., 2002, “Ottoman Labour Battalions in World War I”, in H.-L. Kieser and D. J. Schaller (eds.), Der Völkermord an den Armeniern und die Shoah, Zürich: Chronos Verlag. Page 187.
- Rice, Alan; Simkin, Jay; Zelman, Aaron. Lethal Laws, July 1st, 1994. Published by Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership. Page 91
- Madaghjian, Toros. Memories of Tomarza. Translated by Rev. Father Arten Ashjian, Published in 1959 by G. Doniguian Printing, Beirut. Page 168.
Alex Madajian is a Federal Affairs Assistant with Gun Owners of America and is based in Washington DC. You can follow him on Twitter @alexmadajian.