GOP candidate Ben Carson has been heavily criticized this past week over some bone-headed statements he made in an attempt to justify pro-gun advocacy. In Carson’s new book, A More Perfect Union, the retired neurosurgeon stated that many lives could have been saved during the Holocaust if there had been more guns in Nazi-occupied countries.
“Through a combination of removing guns and disseminating propaganda, the Nazis were able to carry out their evil intentions with relatively little resistance,” Carson wrote in his book.
On Oct. 8, CNN’s Wolf Blitzer interviewed Carson and asked the presidential hopeful if he really believed that less gun laws would have prevented 6 million people from dying at the hands of the Nazis.
Carson reiterated his argument to Blitzer. “The likelihood of Hitler being able to accomplish his goals would have been greatly diminished if the people had been armed,” Carson claimed. “I’m telling you that there is a reason that these dictatorial people take the guns first.”
The Anti-Defamation League responded by stating that, while Carson has the right to his opinion, his comments were insensitive and historically inaccurate. The ADL also mentioned that the amount of guns available for individuals in Nazi-occupied Germany were nowhere near enough to defeat the Nazi regime.
In fact, there were Jewish resistance forces from the Warsaw ghetto that fought the Nazis throughout 1943. The primary weapon that members of these resistance forces used were guns. The Jewish resistance forces killed about 20 Nazis, but were overpowered by the immense numbers of the Nazi regime. The end result of this resistance was the deaths of 13,000 Jews and the deportation of many others to concentration camps.
Carson’s comments not only come off as ignorant, but incredibly untimely. Given that over the span of one week there have been mass shootings at colleges in Oregon, Arizona and Texas, the least appropriate thing for someone to say is that a lack of guns is preventing lives from being saved.
Yet, Carson’s viewpoints on gun control and the Holocaust go hand-in-hand with comments he made on Fox News on Oct. 6, when he discussed how he would have taken action against the gunman in the Oregon college shooting.
“Not only would I probably not cooperate with him, I would not just stand there and let him shoot me,” Carson said. “I would say, ‘Hey guys, everybody attack him. He may shoot me, but he can’t get us all.’”
The statement left Matthew Downing, an 18-year-old survivor of the Umpqua Community College shooting in Roseburg, Ore., deeply offended. Downing was the student the gunman allowed to live, even being referred to by the shooter as “the lucky one.”
Downing was forced by the gunman to go to the back of the classroom and watch several of his classmates being gunned down one after another.
“I’m fairly upset he said that,” Downing told CNN via Facebook. “Nobody could truly understand what actions they would take like that in a situation unless they lived it.”
Simply put, Downing’s argument has a more solid foundation than Carson’s does. Many people say that they would be brave in a dangerous situation. However, when actually held at gunpoint, few people act as they claim they would.
Fear is so powerful that it can override someone’s ability to think critically during a dangerous situation. Some people are so afraid for their lives that they simply freeze and take no action at all. Carson has elaborated on his controversial statement by saying he was “not judging the shooting victims at all.”
If someone wants to make an argument about improving self-defense for American citizens, they need to have an intelligent, tasteful argument before opening their mouth and saying something stupid. Unfortunately though, this is not the case with politicians in the United States who have an agenda they want to push.
Politicians like Carson are so determined to get people to believe in their cause that they become narrow-sighted. Respect, decency and common sense are thrown out the window because it is more important to get someone to agree with their point of view.
Incredible acts of violence, like the Holocaust or the Oregon college shootings, should not be used to manipulate people. Manipulating the masses to support a certain cause always leads to more anger and ignorance. Playing with someone’s emotions is not as effective in the long run as presenting them with a compelling, fact-based argument. The day politicians realize this is the day they will stop shooting themselves square in the foot.