The National Rifle Association has once again drawn condemnation from a Jewish group after one of its lobbyists invoked the Holocaust to attack a Washington state ballot initiative to expand background checks on gun sales. Despite regular denunciations from Jewish groups for misappropriating the history of Holocaust, the NRA routinely uses this type of rhetoric to demonize its opponents and gun legislation it dislikes.
According to a report in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, recently released audio captured NRA lobbyist Brian Judy attacking Seattle businessman Nick Hanauer's support of Initiative 594 -- which would expand background checks in Washington -- because of Hanauer's Jewish background. Calling Hanauer “stupid,” Judy argued that “he's put half-a-million dollars toward this policy, the same policy that led to his family getting run out of Germany by the Nazis.”
Judy went on to mock the intelligence of anyone who is “anti-gun” and Jewish:
JUDY: You know, it's staggering to me, it's just, you can't make this stuff up. That these people, it's like any Jewish people I meet who are anti-gun, I think: Are you serious? Do you not remember what happened?
And why did that happen? Because they registered guns and then they took them. And now you're supporting gun control -- you come to this country and you support gun control. Why did you have to flee to this country in the first place? Hello. Is anybody home here?
The Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle has called for Judy's resignation and asked that the NRA “make clear that it rejects his ignorant and unproductive dialogue.”
Members of the NRA's leadership routinely advance similar arguments. In December 2013, NRA board member Scott Bach, who heads New Jersey's NRA affiliate, created controversy after expressing bewilderment that Jersey City mayor Steven Fulop would support a gun safety questionnaire because Fulop's grandparents survived the Holocaust.
Civil rights organization Anti-Defamation League said it was “outraged” by Bach's “offensive” statement. ADL national director Abraham H. Foxman, a Holocaust survivor, said "[t]here is absolutely no comparison of the issue of gun control in the U.S. to the genocidal actions of the Nazi regime," and adding that Bach's claim “trivializes the historical truth of the Holocaust.” Despite widespread condemnation, the neither the NRA nor Bach would comment on the controversy.
Claims gun safety measures are like the Holocaust and comparisons between supporters of gun violence prevention and Nazis fall within the common parlance of the NRA, from the organization's leadership on down:
- In a 2012 book, NRA leader Wayne LaPierre compared a United Nations event that destroyed weapons used in war to Nazi propagandist Joseph Goebbels' 1933 order that books authored by Jews be publicly burned before asking, “Will the mass burning of firearms help set the stage for mass executions of gun owners?”
- David Keene, who at the time served as the NRA's president, claimed in February 2013 that pro-gun activists who used Nazi imagery to rally against newly enacted gun safety laws in New York were “cognizant of the history” of Nazi Germany. ADL said of Keene's remark, “The list of inappropriate Holocaust analogies regarding gun control continues to grow.”
NRA BOARD MEMBERS
- NRA board member Ted Nugent routinely traffics in Nazi comparisons to attack his political opponents. This year Nugent has compared film executive Harvey Weinstein and outgoing congressman Eric Cantor, who are both Jewish, to Nazi propagandist Goebbels. Citing Nugent's Weinstein comment, the ADL said, “The political debate over gun control continues to be marked by the inappropriate use of Holocaust imagery by some gun advocates.” Nugent has also compared President Obama to a Nazi and warned of a “power struggle between the different races” while explaining his belief the United States is becoming like Nazi Germany.
- Ronnie Barrett, who sits on the NRA's board and is the manufacturer of the Barrett .50 caliber sniper rifle, claimed on an NRA News show that stronger gun safety laws in the United States could lead to “the death of millions,” citing what occurred in Nazi Germany.
CULTURE OF NRA ALLOWS NAZI COMPARISONS
- In a July 28 video, NRA News commentator Chris Cheng raised the Holocaust while baselessly fearmongering about a non-existent gun registry that would lead to the confiscation of privately owned firearms.
- Conservative radio host Glenn Beck was widely condemned by Jewish groups after depicting former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who is Jewish, as giving a Nazi salute during the keynote speech at the NRA's 2013 annual meeting.
- In July 2013 a regular guest on NRA News compared the enforcement of new gun safety laws in Maryland to “when Nazis working the death camps used the excuse of, 'I was just following orders.'”
- Tony Makris, the host of an NRA-sponsored hunting show, was fired by NBC Sports after comparing critics of his controversial elephant hunt to Adolf Hitler while appearing on NRA News.