In a tense exchange over gun control, WHAS radio host Mandy Connell told Congressman John Yarmuth, D-Ky., some regulations could be the first step in total citizen disarmament.
Yarmuth has co-sponsored a bill that would ban high-capacity magazines that hold more than 10 rounds and is a proponent of other regulations in the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary school massacre.
In an on-air interview with Yarmuth on Thursday, Connell said responsible gun owners should also be concerned about further regulations, and compared attempts to register legal gun owners to the Nazi regime tagging Jewish Germans.
“Every country in the world that has taken and de-armed its citizenry started with incremental gun measures,” she said. “This is not unprecedented in history and anybody that pays attention is right to be concerned of an overly intrusive government. Things like Diane Feinstein requiring gun owners to register if they’re already a legal gun owner. Why don’t we make them wear yellow stars as well? Why don’t we tag everybody?”
Gun advocates argue the measure like Yarmuth’s and Senator Feinstein’s infringe on their Second Amendment rights and will not deter individuals who commit violent acts.
Vice President Joe Biden’s task force on firearms will submit recommendations to curb gun violence to President Obama next week. Observers have raised concerns when the vice president said that Mr. Obama was considering bypassing lawmakers and exploring executive orders to help prevent mass shootings.
But in a statement to WFPL, Yarmuth says opponents are misrepresenting his and other measures, and that Connell’s analogy went too far.
“No one is talking about taking away guns from law-abiding Americans. We are advocating commonsense approaches to reducing gun violence, such as universal background checks and restrictions on high-capacity magazines—both of which the majority of Americans support,” he says. “To compare that to the actions of the Nazis during the Holocaust is shocking and abhorrent.”
When it comes to the 27-word sentence, the elementary school shooting in Newtown has re-opened the debate. One particular theme that some gun rights activists have talked about is an individual’s right to defend themselves against a potentially tyrannical government.
University of Louisville political science Professor Dewey Clayton says comparisons of the U.S. government to Nazi Germany or Stalin’s Soviet Union are extreme, but that the gun debate is still a tug-of-war in a post-Newtown country.
“Clearly both sides need to realize there is common ground to be found here,” he says. “But when you talk about our precious Bill of Rights we have to realize none of these freedoms are absolute. Guns have become so prevalent and certain types of guns are being used in these mass shootings that the American people are beginning to say we need to pull back and want government to pull back on freely allowing guns to be out here in society.”
In a controversial 2008 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court expanded gun rights when it ruled individuals have the right to bear arms. Two years later, justices ruled against restrictions on handgun passed by states and city governments.
For many pro-gun conservatives, the individual’s right to gun ownership is about more than hunting and self-defense, but the threat of government itself.
During her interview with Yarmuth, Connell also said that nothing being proposed by lawmakers would have prevented mass shootings, adding shooters have used handguns along with semi-automatic weapons.
“I think it’s an unrealistic expectation to think that if someone is hell bent on creating havoc and doing the horrible things that these mass shooters have done, that just by limiting their magazines you’re going to stop that,” she told Yarmuth.
But Yarmuth pushed back against Connell’s assertions that new measures will not curtail mass shootings and said he supports anything that could prevent casualties.
“What percentage of saved live would be meaningful to you? You’re making the absurd argument that because you can’t stop every one that you can’t make an impact. And if 10 people are killed as opposed to 30, to me that is something worth doing,” he says.
Neither Connell nor her producer has responded to our request to comment for this story.