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Spin Control

Bringing Nazis into the WA gun debate

It's almost always a bad idea to make a reference to Nazis in any contemporary American political debate because it shifts the focus away from the issue at hand and onto the rightness or wrongness of the analogy.

That's what's happening for opponents of Initiative 594, which would expand background checks for most gun sales and transfers, after a comment by a National Rifle Association spokesman.

Steve Judy, an NRA lobbyist, was recorded offering his views of why some people push for more gun control, and why he believes they should know better. As first reported on, a Seattle political blog, he started with the super rich, opining that they want to know where the guns are so that the poor can be disarmed before the rise up against them. He was rifting on a column in Politico, a national political website, by Nick Hanauer, who was actually talking about what was going to happen to the super-rich (himself included) if they don't do something to correct the growing gap between the rich and poor.

Hanauer was talking about the poor coming for the rich with pitchforks, but Judy said the reason the rich support gun control is so that the poor won't have guns. But then Judy veered into the fact that Hanauer's family emigrated from Germany to escape the Nazis, and said he was dumbfounded Hanauer would give money to gun control. . .

To read the rest of this item, or to comment, continue inside the blog.


"Now he's funding, he's put half a million dollars, toward this policy, the sampe policy that led to his family getting run out of Germany by the Nazis. You know, it's staggering to me. It's just, you can't make this stuff up. That these people, it's like any Jewish people I meet who are anti-gun I think "are you serious? Do you not remember what  happened?" And why did that happen? Because they registered guns and they they took them. . . '

The Jewish Federation for Greater Seattle, which was the scene of a mass shooting in 2006 that left one dead and five injured, issued a statement condemning Judy's comments and calling for his resignation.

 Sen. David Frockt and Rep. Reuven Carlyle, Seattle Democrats, called the comments highly offensive and out of touch with Washington voters: "Comparing any legitimate policy debate in this state to what happened in Nazi Germany is a bridge too far and it has no place in our political discourse."

The effects of Nazi gun policies on the Holocaust are the subject of some debate (check here and here for opposing views.) But a general rule of thumb in political discourse is that the first person who makes a reference to Hitler or the Nazis in a political debate in this country is losing.

Jim Camden
Jim Camden joined The Spokesman-Review in 1981 and retired in 2021. He is currently the political and state government correspondent covering Washington state.

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