A Republican Congressman from Alaska has suggested Jews wouldn't have died in the Holocaust if they had owned guns.
Donald Young, who is also an NRA board member, made his comments during a conference in Juneau, responding to a question by Dmiri Shein, his likely Democratic challenger in the 2018 election.
“How many millions of people were shot and killed because they were unarmed? Fifty million in Russia,” Young said, in comments that were recorded by Shein, Alaska Public Media reported.
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“How many Jews were put in the ovens because they were unarmed?” he added.
The historically inaccurate idea that a lack of guns caused the rise of Hitler is a common talking point among those opposed to gun control. Infamously, Ben Carson made that argument in 2015 during a CNN interview on the Second Amendment. “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," he told CNN's Wolf Blitzer. "Through a combination of removing guns and disseminating deceitful propaganda, the Nazis were able to carry out their evil intentions with relatively little resistance."
Carson added: "The likelihood of Hitler being able to accomplish his goals would have been greatly diminished if the people had been armed."
This theory is factually wrong in multiple ways, Vox points out: Germany was disarmed after World War I by other nations as part of the Treaty of Versailles; there were pockets of Jewish armed resistance during WWII; and relatively few of the 6 million Jews killed in the Holocaust lived in Germany — most came from Poland, the Soviet Union and other conquered territories in Europe.
The Anti-Defamation League said it was ridiculous to contend that German Jews could have stopped the Third Reich with personal guns when entire countries were unable to do so with air, sea and ground forces.
On Wednesday, Young's office said his comments were taken out of context. "He was referencing the fact that when Hitler confiscated firearms from Jewish Germans, those communities were less able to defend themselves," a representative said in a statement to The Washington Post."He was not implying that an armed Jewish population would have been able to prevent the horrors of the Holocaust, but his intended message is that disarming citizens can have detrimental consequences. A defenseless people are left up to the mercy of its leaders.”