To the Editor:
Galicia, a geographical area nestled into southeastern Poland and western Ukraine, was the northern-most province of the Austrian Empire until the end of World War I.
Its ethnic background was traditionally mixed. One group of people played an important role in the historical development of this area – the Cossacks. Derived from the Turkic Kazak (free man) – their origins date back to the 14th century.
This was the homeland of my maternal grandfather and like many “free men” who came before him he served in a mounted military unit. In 1906 he emigrated to the United States seeking the vast opportunities in this country; the greatest being freedom.
In the course of history rule of Galicia changed frequently. In 1938, with the reunification of Austria and Germany, new laws were imposed by the National Socialist German Workers Party (NAZI). One of those laws being:
Regulations against Jews’ Possession of Weapons
11 November 1938
The basis in Sect. 31 of the Weapons Law of 18 March 1938 (Reichsgesetzblatt I, p. 265), Article III of the Law on the Reunification of Austria with Germany of 13 March 1938 (Reichsgesetzblatt I, p. 237), and Sect. 9 of the Fuhrer and Chancellor’s decree on the administration of the Sudeten-German districts of 1 October 1938 (Reichsgesetzblatt I p. 1331) are the following ordered:
Sect. 1 Jews (Sect. 5 of the first Regulations of the German Citizenship Law of 14 November 1935, (Reichsgetzblatt I, p. 1333) are prohibited from acquiring, possessing, and carrying firearms and ammunition, as well as truncheons or stabbing weapons. Those now possessing weapons and ammunition are at once to turn them over to the local police authority.
Sect. 2 Firearms and ammunition found in a Jew’s possession will be forfeited to the government without compensation.
Sect. 3 The Minister of the Interior may make exceptions to the Prohibition in Sect.1 for Jews who are foreign nationals. He can entrust other authorities with this power.
Sect.4 Whoever willfully or negligently violates the provisions of Sect. 1 will be punished with imprisonment and a fine. In especially severe cases of deliberate violations, the punishment is imprisonment in a penitentiary for up to five years.
Sect. 5 For the implementation of this regulation, the Minister of the Interior waives the necessary legal and administrative provisions.
Sect. 6 This regulation is valid in the state of Austria and in the Sudeten-German districts.
Berlin, 11 November 1938
Minister of the Interior
The 1928 weapons law, enacted in a democratic Germany, included the registration of firearms. This expedited German leaders’ ability to locate individuals selected in the 1938 law and confiscate their weapons – there lies the peril of registration.
The recently passed SAFE Act in New York State is riddled with infringements regarding ownership of firearms by law abiding citizens. The preponderance of misleading statements, by anti-gun zealots, about the dangers of “military type weapons” in the possession of law abiding citizens speaks to their ignorance of constitutional law and New York history.
On May 15, 1939, in United States v. Miller, the Supreme Court of the United States unanimously decided: “The significance attributed to the term Militia appears from the debates in the Convention, the history and legislation of Colonies and States, and the writings of approved commentators. These demonstrate that the Militia comprised all males physically capable of acting in concert for the common defense ‘A body of citizens enrolled for military discipline.’ And further, that ordinarily when called for service these men were expected to appear bearing arms supplied by themselves and of the kind in common use at that time.”
In fact, attorneys, for the United States, argued that “The Second Amendment protects only the ownership of military-type weapons appropriate for use in an organized militia.”
Further, the importance of personal ownership of “military-type weapons” can readily be seen from the “Extracts of the Revolution of the Convention for calling out one-fourth part of the militia of Suffolk, Queens and Kings Counties passed July 20th, 1776. That the non-commissioned officers and privates who shall furnish themselves with a good and sufficient Musket or firelock, Cartouch Box and Belt and Bayonet or Hatchet …”
The New York State SAFE Act will only make it safer for criminals and terrorists – who obviously have no intention of complying with any law. Exploiting the tragedy, in Connecticut, as a justification for this blatant attack on the law-abiding citizenry of this state, when that incident was perpetrated by a criminal or terrorist, is unthinkable.
It is by the injudicious passage of laws like these that the freedom my grandfather and many others sought, and found here, is vanishing.
George M. Clark