Rep. Don Young suggested last week that fewer Jews and subjects of the Soviet Union would have been murdered in World War II had they been more heavily armed.
“How many millions of people were shot and killed because they were unarmed? Fifty million in Russia,” Young said, in a recording obtained by Alaska Public Radio. “How many Jews were put in the ovens because they were unarmed?”
The Alaska Republican delivered those thoughts at a conference in Juneau in the wake of the Parkland, Florida, school shooting, in which a gunman killed 17 people on Feb. 14.
Young is no stranger to rhetorical controversy. The Republican congressman from Alaska once left a crowd of high schoolers slack-jawed by blaming suicide in part on a lack of support from family and friends and talking about sex between bulls to describe his opposition to same-sex marriage. He also called the Hispanic laborers who picked tomatoes on his family’s farm “wetbacks.”
The idea that mass genocide could have been prevented by greater access to guns for the groups that were slaughtered has been brewing in pro-gun circles for years now.
Critics respond that in 1939 and 1940 the German Wehrmacht overran the Polish and French armies each in less than two months; a citizenry armed with personal weaponry would have stood even less of a chance.
Young is a longtime board member of the National Rifle Association, the pro-gun lobbying group that holds significant sway over lawmakers’ positions on the Second Amendment.
He backs President Donald Trump’s proposal that states should empower school boards to arm some teachers with firearms and train them to use them in the case of emergency.
Democrats say the idea is another in a list of absurdities that will only introduce more danger to classroom environments.
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