Dr. Benjamin Carson, a candidate for the Republican presidential nomination, is the subject of controversy once again after suggesting that the Holocaust might have been prevented if the Jewish victims had been armed.
Just last month, he drew criticism for saying a Muslim should not run for the nation’s highest office because Islam is inconsistent with provisions of the US constitution.
On Thursday, Carson told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer, “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 that there is a reason that these dictatorial people take the guns first,” he added.
The statements came as he was being interviewed about his new book, A More Perfect Union, in which he wrote “German citizens were disarmed by their government in the late 1930s, and by the mid-1940s Hitler’s regime had mercilessly slaughtered six million Jews and numerous others whom they considered inferior … Through a combination of removing guns and disseminating deceitful propaganda, the Nazis were able to carry out their evil intentions with relatively little resistance.”
The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) rejects any attempts to compare the gun control debate in the US to the Holocaust. In 2013, Abraham Foxman, the organization’s national director, said, “The idea that supporters of gun control are doing something akin to what Hitler’s Germany did to strip citizens of guns in the run-up to the Second World War is historically inaccurate and offensive, especially to Holocaust survivors and their families.”
The 1938 German law did prohibit Jews from owning guns. But as the ADL has explained, “the small number of personal firearms in the hands of the small number of Germany’s Jews (about 214,000) remaining in Germany in 1938 could in no way have stopped the totalitarian power of the Nazi German state,” which eventually conquered most of Europe.
In 1943, armed Jews in the Warsaw ghetto fought the Nazis. Jews killed about 20 Nazis, but about 13,000 Jews died in the uprising.
Dr. Carson’s comments came days after the mass shooting at a Umpqua Community College in Oregon, where nine people were killed. Following that incident, he said: “I would not just stand there and let him shoot me. I would say ‘Hey, guys…everybody attack him. He may shoot me, but he can’t get us all.'”
Some relatives of gun attack victims and survivors have called those comments insensitive.
The bravado expressed in his remarks was in stark contrast to how he says he reacted when threatened by a robber at a Baltimore Popeye’s fast food outlet. Carson told Sirius XM Radio, “The guy comes in, put the gun in my ribs. And I just said, ‘I believe that you want the guy behind the counter’. I redirected him.”
The candidate has defended gun rights as an individual citizen’s protection against tyranny and said that he believes mass shootings are a mental health issue.
Ben Carson is currently polling second in the Republican race behind Donald Trump.