Nevada congressional candidate Danny Tarkanian suggested in a recent interview that the Armenian genocide could have been prevented had the Ottoman Empire not robbed Armenians of their guns.
“I happen to understand that the first thing Hitler did before he herded the Jews into concentration camps to kill them was he passed, I believe in ’38, a law that said no Jew could own a gun,” Root said. “In the end you’re powerless and defenseless if you have no gun.”
Tarkanian, a perennial Republican candidate and vocal supporter of President Donald Trump, said the Holocaust was an example of “history repeating itself,” and pointed to the Armenian genocide.
“I’m Armenian, and the Ottoman Empire ― they took the guns from the Armenians,” Tarkanian said. “They came and they killed 1.5 million of the 2 million that were there because they had no way to defend themselves.”
Root agreed, and claimed that despots like Russia’s Joseph Stalin and Cambodia’s Pol Pot “always take the guns first.”
Tarkarian and Root are correct that many mass killings throughout history followed the confiscation of guns. The Ottoman Empire passed gun control laws in 1911, about four years before the start of the Armenian genocide, and Armenians were required to surrender their weapons.
But Armenians had been forbidden from owning weapons for hundreds of years and were the victims of religious persecution well before the 20th-century genocide. A pogrom in the late 19th century, which predated the gun control legislation, also resulted in the murder of hundreds of thousands of Armenians.
A handful of conservative figures, including Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Ben Carson, have latched on to the claim that gun control legislation helped spur the Holocaust. In February, Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska) also questioned how many Jews were “put in the ovens because they were unarmed.”
Tarkanian has unsuccessfully run in state elections since 2004. Hours before the filing deadline for the 2018 midterms last month, Tarkanian dropped his bid to unseat Sen. Dean Heller (R) and decided to run for a House seat instead. Trump had suggested Tarkanian make the move two days earlier: