Michigan GOP compares gun reform to Holocaust in tweet

State lawmakers looking to pass gun safety legislation

WASHINGTON, MICHIGAN - APRIL 02: Kristina Karamo, who was running for the Michigan Republican party's nomination for secretary of state, gets an endorsement from former President Donald Trump during a rally on April 02, 2022 near Washington, Michigan. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images) (Scott Olson, 2022 Getty Images)

Amid Lansing’s ongoing gun reform debate that was reignited by the Michigan State University mass shooting, the state Republican Party took to Twitter to compare such reform to the Holocaust.

The Michigan GOP on Wednesday tweeted a photo referencing the Holocaust to apparently show its disapproval for gun reform in Michigan and beyond. The image showed a container of rings taken from people imprisoned in the Holocaust, with overlaid text saying, “Before they collected all these wedding rings ... they collected all the guns.” The tweet itself said governments that want total control first disarm their people, appearing to try to connect proposed gun reform to eliminating the Second Amendment -- an idea that is not being considered by lawmakers.

The Michigan Republican Party takes to Twitter on March 22, 2023, to apparently compare gun reform to the Holocaust. (WDIV)

The Holocaust -- which was the “systematic, state-sponsored persecution and murder of six million European Jews by the Nazi German regime and its allies and collaborators” -- is frequently used as a comparison when mentioning an infringement of rights.

Between 1933-1945, during World War II, Nazi Germany and its allies killed about two-thirds of Europe’s entire Jewish population using methods like mass shootings and gassings, and specially designed killing centers. To the dismay of many, especially those of Jewish heritage, the brutal genocide is often inappropriately compared to political issues and situations that do not share the same degree of severity.

The comparisons are especially concerning to Jewish people amid a recorded rise in antisemitism across the U.S. in the last two years. Many worry that belittling the devastation of the Holocaust, and what led to it, will only lead to more antisemitic acts.

Learn more about the Holocaust from the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum right here.

New Michigan GOP Chair Kristina Karamo, the failed 2022 Republican candidate for Michigan secretary of state, tweeted her own statement Wednesday morning in response to calls to delete the Holocaust tweet. Karamo doubled down on the message, saying the Michigan GOP “stands by our statement,” claiming that Democratic lawmakers are attempting to disarm people and citing concerns of potential governmental abuse.

The Michigan GOP’s Holocaust tweet comes at a time when Democratic lawmakers are pushing for the passage of so-called “common sense gun safety” laws that would establish universal background checks, red flag laws and safe storage requirements. Legislators are hoping to pass the 11-bill package with the help of their newly acquired Democratic majority in the state House, Senate and governor’s office.

The majority of Michigan voters -- Democrats, Republicans and Independents -- support the gun reform legislation, according to a WDIV/Detroit News survey. The survey found 87.8% of Michigan voters support passage of a law requiring any person purchasing any type of gun from anyone else to go through a background check. More than 77% of voters who identified as Republicans support the background check law, including 77.8% of Republican gun owners.

Read more: Poll: Where Michigan voters stand on proposed gun law reforms after Michigan State shooting

Republican state lawmakers, on the other hand, have been vocal about their opposition to the gun reform package, arguing that existing laws are sufficient and the proposed laws wouldn’t have prevented the MSU mass shooting if they had been in effect then. On Feb. 13, a 43-year-old gunman with no known ties to the university opened fire in two on-campus buildings, killing three students and injuring five others before later taking his own life.

Republican state Sen. Joseph Bellino argues that the laws, particularly the red flag laws, “will give people a sense of false security, all while infringing on everyone’s right to own a firearm to hunt, or even defend themselves.” Red flag laws, which already exist in some communities, are designed to temporarily remove guns from people with potentially violent behavior to prevent them from hurting themselves or others.

Advocates for gun reform in Michigan are seeking to make the process for buying a firearm more thorough in an effort to prevent guns from getting into the wrong hands. But many advocates aren’t seeking to eliminate civilian-owned firearms entirely, and neither are most lawmakers.

In fact, experts on U.S. gun violence and the path forward say that the solution to such violence isn’t taking guns away from responsible gun owners at all. “It’s about preventing people who have access who should not,” said Dr. Patrick Carter, co-director of the Firearm Injury Prevention Center at the University of Michigan.

Dr. Carter and the center are working to better understand gun violence, potential prevention and solutions and how they’re implemented. He says that policy isn’t the only solution to address gun violence, but it is certainly one solution. Red flag laws in particular have become an “increasingly frequent tool” that he finds promising when it comes to decreasing the potential for violence.

More here: Mass gun murder in America: What’s behind it, ways to end it

Michigan senators approved the gun safety package last week on a 20-17 party line vote, sending it to the state House, where it might get taken up this week. Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has already said she will sign the package if it reaches her desk.

Under current Michigan law, a person has to be 18 years old or older to purchase a rifle or shotgun, and at least 21 years old to buy a handgun from a federally licensed dealer. Certain licenses do allow 18-year-olds to purchase a handgun from a private seller.

The bills passed by the Michigan Senate would require a background check for anyone purchasing a rifle or shotgun. A background check is currently only required for handgun purchases. The legislation would also require all firearm purchases to be registered.

Part of the legislation includes safe storage laws, which would create “penalties for storing or leaving a firearm where it may be accessed by a minor.” This issue particularly gained attention in 2021, when a then-15-year-old student opened fire at Oxford High School, killing four students and injuring seven other people. Prosecutors say the shooter, who pleaded guilty to all crimes against him, easily obtained the handgun from his home, arguing it wasn’t secured it all.

Related: Michigan students endure 2 mass school shootings in under 2 years

About the Author:

Cassidy Johncox is a senior digital news editor covering stories across the spectrum, with a special focus on politics and community issues.