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October 12, 2015 28

Why the Holocaust Has No Place in the Gun Debate

By Jonathan Green­blatt
National Direc­tor of the Anti-Defamation League

This arti­cle orig­i­nally appeared on The Huff­in­g­ton Post Blog

With the cam­paign sea­son in full swing, the debate over gun con­trol laws once again has taken cen­ter stage. As the can­di­dates reacted to the sense­less mass shoot­ing in Ore­gon two weeks ago, an old meme about guns, Hitler and the Holo­caust resurfaced.

The argu­ment goes some­thing like this: If Jews and oth­ers had had freer access to more guns in the run up to Hitler’s assum­ing power and had been able to use those guns to fight back against the Third Reich, then there wouldn’t have been a Holo­caust, or far fewer would have per­ished. This his­tor­i­cal second-guessing is deeply offen­sive to Jews, Holo­caust sur­vivors and those who valiantly fought against Hitler dur­ing World War II. It is, in fact, as many his­to­ri­ans have pre­vi­ously noted, a dis­tor­tion of his­tory itself.

Repub­li­can pres­i­den­tial can­di­date Ben Car­son was the most recent to make this out­ra­geous point last week dur­ing an inter­view with Wolf Blitzer on CNN. Since then, he’s taken a lot of heat, and for good rea­son. But he’s cer­tainly not the first per­son to make the assertion.

ADL has responded to this talk­ing point count­less times since it first sur­faced in 2013, when there were a slew of Holo­caust and Nazi analo­gies as part of the gun debate. But it was a fringe idea then — and it deserves to be rel­e­gated to the fringe now, not given the cour­tesy of a main­stream con­ver­sa­tion. These are the facts:

  • Guns or lack of them did not cause the Holo­caust. The Holo­caust was the prod­uct of anti-Semitism and the moral fail­ure and indif­fer­ence of humans.
  • It is mind-bending to sug­gest that per­sonal firearms in the hands of the small num­ber of Germany’s Jews (about 214,000 remain­ing in Ger­many in 1938) could have stopped the total­i­tar­ian onslaught of Nazi Ger­many when the armies of Poland, France, Bel­gium and numer­ous other coun­tries were over­whelmed by the Third Reich.
  • Despite the over­whelm­ing mil­i­tary force of the Nazi regime, there were thou­sands of brave civil­ians — Jew­ish and gen­tile — who indeed often resisted with every fiber of their being. Unfor­tu­nately, arm­ing every Euro­pean Jew would not have been enough to stop an evil force that was only over­come by the mil­i­tary might of the Allies.

Amer­i­cans are enti­tled to express strong opin­ions about divi­sive issues. But Dr. Car­son and oth­ers should stick to the facts. When you manip­u­late the his­tory of the Holo­caust and use it to score polit­i­cal points, its wholly inap­pro­pri­ate and offen­sive. Espe­cially for the sake of the vic­tims of the Nazi onslaught and their mem­ory, it must stop.

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June 24, 2015 0

The Time to Address Gun Violence is Now

By Abra­ham H. Fox­man
National Direc­tor of the Anti-Defamation League

This arti­cle orig­i­nally appeared on The Huff­in­g­ton Post Blog

Last week in Charleston, we were trag­i­cally reminded yet again that domes­tic extrem­ists pose a seri­ous threat to our soci­ety. And the threat they pose is mag­ni­fied many times over when extrem­ists like self-confessed shooter Dylann Roof have firearms.

Sim­ply put, guns in the hands of extrem­ists — guns in the hands of white suprema­cists, guns in the hands of big­ots — are a clear and present dan­ger. To this dan­ger, we must add the threats posed by other shoot­ers with mal­ice in their hearts and guns in their hands: school shoot­ers, work­place shoot­ers, fam­ily and domes­tic vio­lence shoot­ers, as well as all the oth­ers respon­si­ble for so many thou­sands of gun deaths each year in America.

Our nation can no longer afford to ignore this dan­ger. We face seri­ous chal­lenges when it comes to the cur­rents of racism, hatred and prej­u­dice that harm and divide our soci­ety, chal­lenges that won’t be resolved overnight. But we must also con­front and deal urgently with the plague of gun violence.

When it comes to guns, Amer­i­cans can no longer afford to look the other way, or to shrug and say we are pow­er­less to change the sit­u­a­tion. For us at the Anti-Defamation League, we have rec­og­nized the dan­ger of the pro­lif­er­a­tion of guns in our soci­ety as long ago as 1967. And in 1971 and again in 1999 we urged new restric­tions on gun pos­ses­sion, includ­ing the adop­tion of fed­eral and state ini­tia­tives designed to make it more dif­fi­cult for chil­dren and extrem­ists to access guns.

If “now is not the time” was ever a valid argu­ment to avoid dis­cussing the issue of gun vio­lence, its valid­ity has now van­ished. Now is the time; now must be the time. We have to find a way. We have no choice.

There are peo­ple in this coun­try of com­mon sense and good will who have been try­ing, against great obsta­cles, to find ways to deal with the issue of gun violence.

Five years ago, ten major law enforce­ment agen­cies stepped for­ward to cre­ate a Part­ner­ship. These promi­nent insti­tu­tions, includ­ing the Inter­na­tional Asso­ci­a­tion of Chiefs of Police, the Major Cities Chiefs Asso­ci­a­tion, and the National Sher­iffs’ Asso­ci­a­tion, expressed a shared com­mit­ment “to address the per­va­sive nature of gun vio­lence and its hor­rific impact on com­mu­ni­ties across Amer­ica.” They argued, accu­rately, that “the cri­sis of gun vio­lence in our coun­try neces­si­tates a sus­tained, coor­di­nated, and col­lab­o­ra­tive effort involv­ing cit­i­zens, elected offi­cials, law enforce­ment and the entire crim­i­nal jus­tice system.”

Polit­i­cal lead­ers from both par­ties, such as for­mer New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Vice Pres­i­dent Joe Biden, Sen­a­tor Orrin Hatch and Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Nancy Pelosi, have also called for changes in our cur­rent system.

In the after­math of the mass shoot­ing in Charleston, Pres­i­dent Obama repeated what he said after 20 chil­dren and six edu­ca­tors were killed at the Sandy Hook Ele­men­tary School in New­town, Con­necti­cut, call­ing once again for “common-sense gun reforms.”

Point­ing out, sadly, that this was the 14th time in his pres­i­dency that he has addressed the nation after a mass shoot­ing, he said that even if some of the reforms rec­om­mended after New­town would not have pre­vented the Charleston mas­sacre, “we might still have more Amer­i­cans with us. We might have stopped one shooter. Some fam­i­lies might still be whole.”

In the past, too few of the men and women we count on to lead our nation have answered the call to action issued from these pub­lic offi­cials and law enforce­ment offi­cers. That must change. We no longer have the lux­ury of inac­tion, if we ever did. We must join together in a sus­tained effort.

Address­ing gun vio­lence means impos­ing sen­si­ble stricter con­trols on firearms, such as com­pre­hen­sive back­ground checks of all pur­chases of firearms, dan­ger­ous weapons and ammu­ni­tion — includ­ing pur­chases at gun shows — and man­dat­ing rea­son­able wait­ing periods.

It also means bet­ter data col­lec­tion and research on the causes and pre­ven­tion of gun vio­lence, and — as lead­ing law enforce­ment agen­cies have pre­scribed — “clos­ing gaps in the cur­rent reg­u­la­tory sys­tem, includ­ing those that enable felons, minors, per­sons with men­tal ill­ness and other pro­hib­ited per­sons to access firearms, and those that allow the traf­fick­ing of ille­gal guns.”

These reforms do not need to, and should not, demo­nize law­ful gun own­ers, nor should they inspire more irre­spon­si­ble, inac­cu­rate and odi­ous analo­gies to Nazi Ger­many or stig­ma­tize those who suf­fer from men­tal illness.

The time has come for us to come to grips with this prob­lem. It is not enough to con­demn the Charleston shooter and mourn the vic­tims. We owe it to those vic­tims and to our­selves to find a way mean­ing­fully to advance gun vio­lence pre­ven­tion efforts before there is another tragedy.

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January 17, 2014 6

Gun Advocates Continue To Misappropriate The Holocaust

The heated polit­i­cal debate over gun con­trol con­tin­ues to be tainted by the inap­pro­pri­ate use of Holo­caust imagery by some gun advocates.nugent-weinstein-gun-control-hitler-nazi

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.

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