(This story was updated on Oct. 12, 2015.)
(JTA) — Republican presidential hopeful Ben Carson blamed gun control for the extent of the Holocaust.
In an interview Thursday on CNN, Carson said fewer people would have been killed by the Nazis had more citizens been armed.
“I think the likelihood of Hitler being able to accomplish his goals would have been greatly diminished if the people had been armed,” he said. “I’m telling you there is a reason these dictatorial people take the guns first.”
CNN anchor Wolf Blitzer was challenging Carson over claims in his latest book that gun control has historically been a predicate for tyranny.
“German Citizens were disarmed by their government in the late 1930s and by the mid 1940s Hitler’s regime had mercilessly slaughtered six million Jews and numerous others whom they considered inferior,’ Carson wrote in “A More Perfect Union,” published this week.
The book’s release Oct. 6 was coincident with Carson’s reaction to the news of the latest mass killing, in Roseburg, Ore. Carson said earlier this week that in a hypothetical mass shooting situation, he would lead a charge on the shooter.
Hitler and Nazi Germany used overwhelming force to occupy wide swathes of Europe and to murder six million Jews.
Hitler’s rise to power in Germany in the 1920s and early 1930s encountered some violent resistance, but was otherwise relatively unimpeded because the vast majority of Germans chose not to resist Nazism and to a large degree embraced it.
In the same interview, Carson also said that arming kindergarten teachers would help prevent school shootings.
Carson, a retired neurosurgeon, is not the first gun-rights activist to suggest gun control was a factor enabling the Nazis to perpetrate genocide. In January 2013, after several such remarks, the Anti-Defamation League called on conservatives to keep Nazi analogies out of the debate over gun control.
Later that year, a National Rifle Association board member invoked the Holocaust in criticizing a Jewish New Jersey mayor for supporting gun control.
The Anti-Defamation released a statement calling Carson’s comments “historically inaccurate.”
ADL National Director Jonathan Greenblatt said that Carson “has a right to his views on gun control, but the notion that Hitler’s gun-control policy contributed to the Holocaust is historically inaccurate … gun control did not cause the Holocaust; Nazism and anti-Semitism did.”
Carson dismissed the ADL statement in an interview on ABC’s “Good Morning America” on Friday.
“That’s total foolishness,” Carson told George Stephanopoulos. “It is well known that in many places where tyranny has taken over, they first disarm the people.”