The Anti-Defamation League says it is "outraged" by recent comments from National Rifle Association Board Member Scott Bach who wondered how the mayor of Jersey City, New Jersey, could support a gun safety proposal given that the mayor's grandparents survived the Holocaust.
Bach, who heads the NRA affiliate group Association of New Jersey Rifle and Pistol Clubs, criticized Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop on a December 11 NRA News program over Fulop's support for a measure that would require city gun vendors to fill out a six-question survey on gun safety when bidding on contracts. Citing Fulop's past service in the Marines and that his grandparents were survivors of the Holocaust, Bach stated, "So you've got to wonder why he is not getting it." Bach's implication that modern gun safety proposals recall the the Holocaust is a common -- but ahistorical -- theory promoted by right-wing media and the NRA.
Fulop characterized Bach's claim as "asinine" and "backwards" on the December 16 edition of The Brian Lehrer Show, adding, "If my grandparents had guns in their house when the Nazis came, my grandparents would be dead and I wouldn't be here. So that's probably the reality of the situation. But I don't think that you can equate religious persecution to a manipulation of the intent of the Second Amendment."
The ADL, a national civil rights organization, issued a December 16 statement condemning Bach for his "offensive" statement. ADL National Director Abraham H. Foxman said that Bach's claim "trivializes the historical truth of the Holocaust," and noted, "There is absolutely no comparison of the issue of gun control in the U.S. to the genocidal actions of the Nazi regime." Foxman's full statement read:
No matter how strong one's objections are to a policy, or how committed an organization is to its mission, invoking the Holocaust to score political points is offensive and has no place in civil discourse.
It is especially disturbing that in the debate over gun control in America, Holocaust analogies and references to Nazi Germany flow so freely off the lips of critics of gun control. There is absolutely no comparison of the issue of gun control in the U.S. to the genocidal actions of the Nazi regime.
Scott Bach's critique of Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop's gun control measures undermines and trivializes the historical truth of the Holocaust as a singular event in human history that led to the murder of six million Jews and millions of others. That he did so by invoking Mayor Fulop's family history makes it all the more offensive.
Fulop praised the ADL release in a statement to Tablet Magazine and reiterated "the ignorance of the NRA's comments."
Amid the heated national debate over gun laws after the Newtown elementary school massacre, the ADL has had to repeatedly condemn comparisons between gun safety proposals -- such as expanding background checks on gun sales -- and the Holocaust. In January, the ADL rebuked members of conservative media who had made "inappropriate invocations of Hitler, Nazis, and general Holocaust imagery" during the gun debate.
The NRA has also served as a hotbed for offensive Holocaust comparisons. During the keynote speech of the NRA's annual meeting in May, conservative radio host Glenn Beck projected a giant image of New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg -- who is Jewish -- that had been doctored to make it seem like he was giving a Nazi Sieg Heil salute:
On behalf of the ADL, Foxman condemned Beck for showing Bloomberg in a "Hitlerian salute" and called on the radio host to stop trivializing the Holocaust. B'nai B'rith, a Jewish humanitarian and human rights organization, called for an apology from Beck while The National Jewish Democratic Council asked the NRA to condemn Beck.
Bach and Beck, however, aren't the only pro-gun activists who have used the NRA as a platform to compare gun regulation to the Holocaust:
- In a March interview on a conspiracy theory radio show, NRA Board Member Ted Nugent compared President Obama to "a German in 1938 pretending to respect the Jews and then going home and putting on his brown shirt and forcing his neighbors onto a train to be burned to death."
- A February 28 pro-gun rally in Albany, New York, in opposition to proposals by Governor Andrew Cuomo and the state legislature to enact new gun safety laws prominently featured signs comparing Cuomo to Hitler and led to a number of Holocaust comparisons from the NRA. Then NRA-President David Keene drew a rebuke from the ADL for defending Hitler comparisons made at the rally as historically accurate. On a March 1 NRA News program, NRA Investigative Reporter Ginny Simone praised an "Adolf Cuomo" sign as one of the "great" signs she saw at the Albany event. Also on March 1, NRA Board Member Ronnie Barrett, the outspoken manufacturer of a controversial armor-piercing sniper rifle, warned on NRA News that new gun laws could mean "the death of millions," adding that, "if people don't think that these things don't happen to modern, progressive, Christian nations like Germany was, they're wrong."
- Well-known for his paranoid rhetoric, NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre suggested in a 2011 book that an annual event held by the United Nations that destroys weapons used in war could "help set the stage for mass executions of gun owners" just as Nazi propagandist Joseph Goebbels' order that Jewish books be burned in public precipitated the mass killing of Jews.
- During a June 20 NRA News show, frequent guest Frank Borelli compared the enforcement of Maryland's new gun laws to the operation of Nazi death camps.