Ben Carson said Thursday that Adolf Hitler’s mass murder of Jews “would have been greatly diminished” if German citizens had not been disarmed by the Nazi regime.But there's nothing unusual about what he's saying. He's echoing an assertion that right-wingers have been making for years. If you didn't know that, it's probably because the mainstream press routinely ignores or downplays this sort of conservative extremism.
The comment ... came during an interview with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer....
His comments about gun control in Nazi Germany are explored in his just-released book, “A More Perfect Union: What We the People Can Do to Reclaim Our Constitutional Liberties,” in which he expands on his political views.
He said Nazi Germany was one of the regimes that he used as a cautionary tale against curbing citizens’ gun rights.
“But just clarify, if there had been no gun control laws in Europe at that time, would 6 million Jews have been slaughtered?” Blitzer asked.
"I think the likelihood of Hitler being able to accomplish his goals would have been greatly diminished if the people had been armed,” Carson said.
Blitzer pushed a bit more: “Because they had a powerful military machine, as you know, the Nazis.”
“I understand that,” Carson said. “I’m telling you that there is a reason that these dictatorial people take the guns first.”
In January 2013, when President Obama was pressing for gun control measures in the aftermath of the Sandy Hook massacre, the Drudge Report posted the headline on the left below:
And as Alex Seitz-Wald pointed out at the time, the idea had been in the right-wing air for a while:
The NRA, Fox News, Fox News (again), Alex Jones, email chains, Joe “the Plumber” Wurzelbacher, Gun Owners of America, etc., all agree that gun control was critical to Hitler’s rise to power. Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership (“America’s most aggressive defender of firearms ownership”) is built almost exclusively around this notion, popularizing posters of Hitler giving the Nazi salute next to the text: “All in favor of ‘gun control’ raise your right hand.”On Fox, Seitz-Wald Fox cites Judge Andrew Napolitano and a Fox & Friends guest named Joshua Boston; a month after Seitz-Wald's article appeared, the Big Kahuna, Bill O'Reilly, echoed the talking point:
In his 1994 book, NRA head Wayne LaPierre dwelled on the Hitler meme at length, writing: “In Germany, Jewish extermination began with the Nazi Weapon Law of 1938, signed by Adolf Hitler.”
The Nazis were not told off. They were defeated by brave men armed with guns. Also the Nazis took most guns away from civilians, both German and those under occupation. In fact, Hitler imposed the strictest gun control on earth.A few months later, former Fox star Glenn Beck, in a gun control book, invoked the meme as well, although he didn't buy into it completely:
"If there had been no gun control laws in Germany prior to Hitler, and the German people were as heavily armed as Americans are today, would things still have played out the same way? Obviously, no one knows for sure -- but it's hard to make a convincing case that things could've been much worse."The idea goes back decades:
According to gun rights activist Neal Knox, the Nazi gun control theory was first suggested by Jay Simkin and Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership (JPFO) founder Aaron S. Zelman in a book they published in 1992. In it, they compared the German gun laws of 1928 and 1938, and the U.S. Congressional hearings for what became the Gun Control Act of 1968.In 1992, supporters of a congressional candidate named Frank LoBiondo linked Nazism and gun control in a campaign flier:
In September, during the Sportsmen's Jamboree in Millville, someone in a booth behind where LoBiondo was campaigning distributed literature focusing on gun control that compared [incumbent William J.] Hughes to Adolf Hitler. The offending flier showed Hitler saluting the image of a bull's-eye, and was captioned, "Everyone in favor of gun control - raise your right hand - dump Bill Hughes."(LoBiondo, by the way won a congressional election in 1994, and has been a congressman ever since.)
Hughes said LoBiondo had endorsed the inflammatory flier, and LoBiondo heatedly denied having any connection to the literature.
Ron Paul endorsed the idea on the floor of the House in 2003:
I would remind my colleagues that policies prohibiting the private ownership of firearms were strongly supported by tyrants such as Adolph Hitler, Joseph Stalin, and Mao Tse-Tong.So if you think Carson is saying something uniquely crazy, you simply haven't been paying attention -- or the news sources to which you regularly turn have been trying to persuade you that conservatism isn't as crazy as it actually is.
And the idea really is crazy, as Ed Kilgore notes:
Nazis were the masters of extralegal violence; had an early armed resistance arisen, it would probably if anything have sped the imposition of state terror, much like the Reichstag fire did.I'd add this: Literally millions of right-wing Americans believe that we're enduring a totalitarian dictatorship right here, right now. A huge percentage of those right-wingers -- perhaps the majority -- are armed, some of them heavily. If these people are so certain that armed citizens can overthrow a tyrant, why aren't they trying? Why isn't there an armed resistance movement threatening the Obama administration? Do you think maybe they've made a reasonable calculation of the odds of success, and have decided not to give it a go? And what does that say about their pathetic blows-against-the-empire fantasies?