In an interview with CNN Thursday, GOP presidential candidate and retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson made contentious comments suggesting that the Holocaust would have been less deadly if more people in Europe had been armed. His comments came only a few days after he made controversial statements -- that some people interpreted as a form of victim-blaming -- about the Oregon massacre.
The topic of the Holocaust came up during the CNN interview because in Carson’s book “A Perfect Union,” the candidate wrote, “through a combination of removing guns and disseminating propaganda, the Nazis were able to carry out their evil intentions with relatively little resistance, according to ABC News.
CNN asked Carson, "But just to clarify, if there had been no gun control laws in Europe at that time, would 6 million Jews have been slaughtered?"
Carson responded, "I think the likelihood of Hitler being able to accomplish his goals would have been greatly diminished if the people had been armed," he said. "I'm telling you there is a reason these dictatorial people take the guns first."
The Anti-Defamation League, which has been fighting anti-Semitism and other forms of bigotry for over a century, swiftly responded to Carson’s comment.
“Ben Carson has a right to his views on gun control, but the notion that Hitler’s gun-control policy contributed to the Holocaust is historically inaccurate," said Jonathan Greenblatt, National Director of the organization, ABC News reported. "The small number of personal firearms available to Germany’s Jews in 1938 could in no way have stopped the totalitarian power of the Nazi German state."
Carson also defended contentious comments he had made earlier this week about what he would do if he were facing a gunman similar to the one responsible for the Oregon college massacre. The GOP candidate drew a public backlash Tuesday when he said, "I would not just stand there and let him shoot me. I would say: ‘Hey, guys, everybody attack him! He may shoot me, but he can’t get us all.'”
In Thursday’s interview, Carson suggested media coverage has misconstrued his original intent.
“To me that doesn't sound like a very controversial thing, but when you take it out of context and you try to make it look like I'm criticizing the victims, that's when it becomes controversial," Carson told CNN. "I would much rather go down fighting."