Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson has waded deeper into a row over gun control by claiming that Jewish people in Nazi Germany might have been able to prevent the Holocaust if they had been armed.
Carson was quizzed on CNN over comments in his new book, A More Perfect Union: What We the People Can Do to Reclaim Our Constitutional Liberties, which cites Nazi Germany to argue that the right to bear arms should not be curtailed.
CNN’s Wolf Blitzer asked him: “Just clarify, if there had been no gun control laws in Europe at that time, would six million Jews have been slaughtered?”
Carson replied: “I think the likelihood of Hitler being able to accomplish his goals would have been greatly diminished if the people had been armed … I’m telling you that there is a reason that these dictatorial people take the guns first.”
The former neurosurgeon is currently polling in second place in the race to become the Republican presidential candidate, behind front-runner Donald Trump.
His comments risk further fuelling the outrage that greeted recent remarks on the killing of nine people last week at Umpqua Community College in Oregon.
Asked how he would have responded, following reports that Christopher Harper-Mercer had asked victims whether they were Christian before killing them, Carson told Fox News: “Not only would I probably not cooperate with him, 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.’”
However, Carson’s gung-ho attitude was undermined by a story he shared with SiriusXM radio on Thursday, in which he recalled being threatened with a gun in a Popeyes chicken restaurant in Baltimore on an unspecified date.
“The guy comes in, put the gun in my ribs,” Carson said. “And I just said, ‘I believe that you want the guy behind the counter’ … I redirected him.”
What happened to the person behind the counter was not elaborated upon. Baltimore police department said “there was not enough info to identify a police report in reference to the incident … Date and location would assist in locating report.”
The tweet referencing the #BenCarson report is in reference to multiple media request. Date and location would assist in locating report.
— Baltimore Police (@BaltimorePolice) October 8, 2015
Outspoken remarks by Carson, who has no experience of serving in government, have won him both praise – along with a boost in the polls – and condemnation.
After he called for kindergarten teachers to be armed, Erica Lafferty – whose mother, school principal Dawn Hochsprung, was one of 26 people killed in the 2012 Sandy Hook massacre – told the Guardian: “Ben Carson’s comments are insensitive to anyone who has ever been personally affected by gun violence.
“My mother was an elementary school principal, not a marine who signed up to be on the frontlines of a shootout.”
Carson also provoked a backlash when he said last month that he “absolutely would not agree” with a Muslim becoming US president.
By Claire Phipps, The Guardian