Scott Bach, the National Rifle Association board member who has been widely condemned for recent comments that trivialized the Holocaust, previously claimed that Hitler was “pro-gun control” and that the Holocaust may have been averted “if the victims had not first been disarmed under the pretext of public safety.”
Bach has faced heavy criticism since his December 11 claim on NRA News that Jersey City, New Jersey Mayor Steven Fulop was wrong to require city gun vendors to fill out a survey about gun safety, considering that Fulop's grandparents survived the Holocaust. The Anti-Defamation League, the Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest NJ, the editorial board of New Jersey's largest newspaper, and Fulop himself have all condemned Bach's claim.
As the head of the Association of New Jersey Rifle and Pistol Clubs (ANJRPC), an official NRA affiliate organization, Bach is the most prominent gun rights activist in New Jersey. He has served on the NRA board since 2003 and an October 2011 profile in an NRA magazine described Bach as “a tenacious Second Amendment activist, who has devoted more than a decade to defending gun rights both nationally and on the 'front lines' of the Northeast--where politicians who control government are hostile to firearm freedoms.”
On his website, Bach describes becoming involved in the gun rights movement “after a profoundly painful breakup of an extremely serious relationship with a woman who flat out refused to accept my interest in freedom, firearms, and the Second Amendment.” He continued: “In relinquishing love in favor of freedom, I realized that freedom was the higher value in my life, and having paid an ultimate price to uphold that value, I could no longer remain quietly in the shadows.”
Bach's group heavily lobbied against the New Jersey legislature's attempt to pass numerous gun safety laws in the wake of the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. In the end, Republican Gov. Chris Christie signed 10 measures into law while vetoing others. During the debate over new laws, Bach was responsible for spreading a false smear on the legislators who supported gun safety measures that claimed they were overheard calling for gun confiscation.
While the ANJRPC agenda is largely indistinguishable from the NRA's, Bach devotes special attention to maintaining the legality of .50 caliber sniper rifles in New Jersey and to promoting black bear hunting. Bach, who had a "confrontation" with a black bear, claims that in New Jersey an “epidemic of predatory bear attacks is the result of an out-of-control bear population that needs to be reduced,” and has promoted self-defense legislation against bears, arguing, “The principle holds whether the assailant is a knife-wielding rapist or an attacking black bear.” The New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife says “black bear attacks are extremely rare,” and, “The mere presence of a black bear is not considered a problem.”
Bach's widely criticized claim about Fulop was hardly the first time he has invoked the Holocaust to argue against gun regulation. During a July 2012 interview, Bach claimed that, “Ironically, Hitler was pro-gun control,” while stressing the importance of an “armed populace.” In an essay on his website, Bach suggests that the Holocaust was made possible by “a gradual and systematic program of gun control” and that the atrocity might have been prevented “if the victims had not first been disarmed under the pretext of public safety”:
Prior to the murder of 13 million people throughout Germany and Nazi-occupied Europe, a gradual and systematic program of gun control and registration was implemented. Public safety was the stated justification. Once gun owners had been identified through registration, an aggressive gun confiscation program to disarm the population (and in particular, Jewish people) was implemented. As a result, the population was rendered defenseless against the slaughter that followed. Said Hitler in his Edict of March 18, 1938: “The most foolish mistake we could possibly make would be to allow the subjected people to carry arms; history shows that all conquerors who have allowed their subjected people to carry arms have prepared their own fall.”
How might the outcome of the Holocaust and other government-organized genocides have been different if the victims had not first been disarmed under the pretext of public safety?
These claims, however, are based on an invented history of the Holocaust and the events culminating in Hitler's rise to power cannot be accurately compared to the current debate over gun laws. As ADL National Director and Holocaust survivor Abraham H. Foxman noted in his organization's statement condemning Bach, “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.”