The discourse on gun control policy in the United States is littered with the shell casings of hollow historical metaphors. Neither side is immune, but an absurd argument that simply won’t quit is the suggestion that the Nazi regime would have failed to carry out its mass slaughter in World War II if the victims had been toting guns.
The argument made by gun advocates from NRA high to Joe the Plumber low trivializes, reduces, and offends. The subtext in the American conversation is the conspiratorial notion that the gun owners are the Jews and the government are the Nazis trying to disarm and control the population.
Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop, whom we wrote about last month, is on a crusade to change gun control policy in his city. Writing in the Huffington Post last week, Fulop announced that he would use the power of his police force’s weapon purchases to extract concessions from gun vendors to be more socially responsible about their business practices. Fulop also anticipated a backlash:
Gun makers are going to complain that Jersey City is overstepping its bounds and interfering with gun owners’ rights. Unfortunately that’s the typical response from an industry which has fiercely fought to protect its right to manufacture and sell guns and bullets yet shows almost no regard for what happens after they are purchased.
Members of the gun industry didn’t just complain about Fulop’s proposal, they attacked him personally. In the midst of a diatribe about Fulop, Scott L. Bach, an NRA board member and executive director of the Association of New Jersey Rifle and Pistol Clubs, offered up this horseapple.
“His (Fulop’s) grandparents were Holocaust survivors according to Wikipedia. So you’ve got to wonder why he is not getting it.”
ADL Chief Abe Foxman responded in turn, condemning Bach’s remarks not only for their historically shoddy shortcomings and its invoking of the Holocaust to score political points, but also adding that Bach’s summoning of Fulop’s family’s personal history “makes it all the more offensive.”
I reached Fulop last night for his response to the comments. Here’s what he offered:
The ADL (and the CRC) response both speak for itself on the ignorance of the NRA’s comments. Jersey City is doing significant work on gun reform that can be a game changer if more cities use their purchasing power as leverage to change the dialog.
Adam Chandler was previously a staff writer at Tablet. His work has appeared in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Atlantic, Slate, Esquire, New York, and elsewhere. He tweets @allmychandler.