Gun owners-Holocaust victims comparison draws criticism
BY DAVE MCKINNEY Springfield Bureau Chief firstname.lastname@example.org April 21, 2011 3:22PM
Updated: September 24, 2012 6:25AM
SPRINGFIELD — A state senator from the North Side — and husband of a newly elected Chicago alderman — called on a Downstate gun-rights group to apologize for using a gold Star of David, like the ones Jews were forced to wear in Nazi Germany, in an effort to compare the plight of gun-owners to that of victims of the Holocaust.
State Sen. Ira Silverstein on Thursday criticized the group, Guns Save Life, for publishing an article comparing the treatment of 6 million Jews during the Holocaust with that of Illinois gun owners battling to keep their names private in an open-records dispute involving Attorney General Lisa Madigan and the Illinois State Police.
“This is a poor analogy, a very poor analogy,” said Silverstein (D-Chicago), who is Jewish and represents numerous Holocaust survivors in his district, which includes Rogers Park and Skokie. “It brings back horrible memories. To compare this to Lisa Madigan is totally absurd.
“It offended not only me but a lot of Jewish individuals and non-Jewish individuals who know the history of the Holocaust. [This group] should think before they print these things,” he said.
In its April issue of GunNews, the gun-rights group has a bold headline titled “Madigan’s list” in an apparent play off the movie, “Schindler’s List.” And below that is a graphic showing the Israeli flag with the phrase, “Armed, people fly their colors,” next to the gold Star of David with the phrase, “Disarmed, victims wear them.”
John Boch, president of the gun-rights group that has erected pro-gun signs along Downstate interstates, was unrepentant about the reference made on the front page of his group’s newspaper.
“That image on the front of GunNews says a whole lot. The FOID card information that could be made public is identifying Illinois gun owners. It’s the first step toward what happened in Germany in the 1930s,” he said.
Boch criticized Silverstein, husband of newly elected North Side Ald. Debra Silverstein (50th) , for objecting to the analogy.
“What is offensive is people wielding the victimhood card against others and trying to intimidate others out of their First Amendment rights. Sen. Silverstein ought to be thanking us for our advocacy of his First and Second Amendment rights, not whining and crying that he feels offended,” Boch said. “He doesn’t have a copyright on Holocaust imagery.”
The National Rifle Association and the Illinois State Police, which maintains the database of firearms owner ID holders, oppose Madigan’s order that the names be made public. Earlier this month, the Illinois House passed and sent to the Senate legislation that would bar the release of the FOID database.
The NRA’s lobbyist at the statehouse, Todd Vandermyde, declined comment on the GunNews front page with the yellow Star of David symbol and referred questions to the NRA’s national office.
“Just to see the image is scary,” Ira Silverstein said. “There are only a few survivors around of the Holocaust. For them to see something like this nowadays is unacceptable.”