The heated political debate over gun control continues to be tainted by the inappropriate use of Holocaust imagery by some gun advocates.
One such analogy suggests that those who support stronger gun control are akin to Hitler or other Nazi figures. Most recently, rock musician and gun advocate Ted Nugent compared film producer Harvey Weinstein to a Nazi propagandist, stating that those who watch Weinstein’s planned film about the National Rifle Association (NRA) “will see that Joseph Goebbels and Saul Alinsky is [sic] alive in the form of a fat punk named Harvey Weinstein, and as he tries to destroy the NRA, it will backfire on him.” He also said that “you have to be brain-dead to believe that the gun-free zones of Chicago and Nuremberg in 1938 are a desirable condition.”
Another historically inaccurate analogy suggests that if those who perished under the Nazis had better access to guns, the regime would not have been able to systematically murder so many Jews and others. For example, in response to Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop’s efforts to improve gun safety in December 2013, NRA board member Scott Bach said, “…if you’re going to be a Jersey City mayor you have to by default be anti-gun…His grandparents were Holocaust survivors according to Wikipedia. So you’ve got to wonder why he is not getting it.”
It must be noted that 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. When they had weapons, Jews could symbolically resist, as they did in the 1943 Warsaw Uprising and elsewhere, but could not stop the Nazi genocide machine. Gun control did not cause the Holocaust; Nazism and anti-Semitism did.
Invoking offensive Holocaust analogies in discussions of controversial issues is nothing new. Such comparisons have been used by both Democrats and Republicans on a number of issues, and by numerous public figures when discussing topics ranging from abortion to animal rights to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to LGBT rights. A spike in offensive Holocaust analogies also followed the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting.