Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson is refusing to back down following controversial comments he made this week, suggesting that the Holocaust would have been “diminished” had Jews in Nazi Germany had guns, ABC News is reporting.
Speaking to CNN’s Wolf Blitzer on Thursday, Carson discussed the topic of gun control in the wake of the shooting at Umpqua Community College last week in Roseburg, Oregon, which left nine people (plus the shooter himself) dead. Carson told Blitzer that he would rather “go down fighting” when faced with an armed assailant. Then, Carson stated that had Jews in Nazi Germany been armed, the Holocaust wouldn’t have been as severe.
“I think the likelihood of Hitler being able to accomplish his goals would have been greatly diminished if the people had been armed. I’m telling you there is a reason these dictatorial people take the guns first.”
— CBS News (@CBSNews) October 9, 2015
The remarks echo a passage in Carson’s book, A More Perfect Union: What The People Can Do To Reclaim Our Constitutional Liberties, in which he expanded on the idea further.
“Through a combination of removing guns and disseminating propaganda, the Nazis were able to carry out their evil intentions with relatively little resistance.”
The remarks drew outrage from the Jewish civil rights advocacy group, The Anti Defamation League, which describes Carson’s views on Hitler’s gun control policies and the Holocaust as “historically inaccurate.”
“Ben Carson has a right to his views on gun control, but the notion that Hitler’s gun-control policy contributed to the Holocaust is historically inaccurate. The small number of personal firearms available to Germany’s Jews in 1938 could in no way have stopped the totalitarian power of the Nazi German state.”
— ADL (@ADL_National) October 9, 2015
Vox writer Matthew Yglesias provides further evidence that Carson’s claim about the relationship between gun control and the Holocaust may not be completely accurate. In fact, says Yglesias, it was England, France, and the United States that disarmed the German populace. Fearing Germany might re-arm itself after World War I, the three nations severely limited private ownership of firearms – a provision that was included in the Treaty of Versailles. By 1938, the Nazi Regime had actually begun ignoring the Treaty’s gun control requirement. Further, the Nazis did face armed resistance from Jews in Germany, but their small arms were useless against the German military might that included tanks, ships, airplanes, and other weapons.
The origins of the infuriating conservative myth that gun control caused the Holocaust http://t.co/uAtotsfwwp pic.twitter.com/VZs1zHtCnP
— Matthew Yglesias (@mattyglesias) October 9, 2015
Regardless of the outrage his remarks caused and amid concerns about their accuracy, Carson has refused to back down. Speaking to George Stephanopoulos on Good Morning America, Carson insisted that gun control played a role in Nazi Germany’s ability to slaughter six million Jews.
“That’s total foolishness. I’d be happy to discuss that in depth with anybody but it is well known that in many places where tyranny has taken over they first disarm the people. There’s a reason they disarm the people. They don’t just do it arbitrarily.”
This is not the first time Ben Carson has made controversial statements that don’t appear to hold up under scrutiny. In March of this year, Carson, a neurosurgeon, said that prison proves homosexuality is a choice because “a lot of people who go into prison go into prison straight — and when they come out, they’re gay.” The consensus among most scientists, according to Time, is that sexuality is not a choice. Carson later apologized for those remarks.
Do you agree with Ben Carson that gun control played a role in the Holocaust? Share your thoughts in the comments below.