Dr. Ben Carson continued in an interview Friday to make the argument that gun control leads to tyranny, doubling down on previous statements about how firearm regulations helped enable the rise of Nazi Germany.
Asked by MSNBC's Andrea Mitchell if he was "mischaracterizing the enormity of what happened" by saying armed Jews could have prevented the Holocaust, the Republican presidential candidate stood by his comments.
"Well not only the Jews, but the entire populous," Carson responded. "This is a general pattern that you see before tyranny occurs. There are many countries where that has occurred where they disarm the populous before they impose their tyrannical rule."
Carson, a former neurosurgeon, has drawn criticism for invoking the Holocaust when discussing gun control. In an interview Thursday on CNN, Carson said, "the likelihood of Hitler being able to accomplish his goals would have been greatly diminished if the people had been armed," prompting an immediate backlash.
“Ben 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," the Anti-Defamation League's Jonathan A. Greenblatt said in a statement. "The small number of personal firearms available to Germany’s Jews in 1938 could in no way have stopped the totalitarian power of the Nazi German state. When they had weapons, Jews could symbolically resist, as they did in the 1943 Warsaw Ghetto Uprising and elsewhere, but they could not stop the Nazi genocide machine. In short, gun control did not cause the Holocaust; Nazism and anti-Semitism did."
Carson has come under fire repeatedly for his remarks on gun control this week. On Tuesday, he argued that he'd feel more comfortable if kindergarten teachers were armed and that victims should fight gunmen in mass shooting situations.
Carson's argument that the Holocaust was helped by gun control is laid out in a new book written by the candidate, released Tuesday.
“Through a combination of removing guns and disseminating deceitful propaganda, the Nazis were able to carry out their evil intentions with relatively little resistance," Carson writes in “A More Perfect Union: What We the People Can Do to Reclaim Our Constitutional Liberties."
Carson, who has risen to second in national polls of likely GOP voters, has also faced criticism for his views on the debt ceiling. In an interview with Marketplace earlier this week, the retired doctor seemed to confuse hiking the ceiling with the budget. Pressed by reporters on whether he would allow the government to default on its financial obligations, he pivoted back to saying that the United States must stop creating new debt in the first place.
Speaking with Mitchell on Friday, Carson again focused entirely on spending when asked about the debt limit.
"I'm not going sign anything that in any way increases our obligations," he said when asked how he'd handle the debt ceiling showdown Congress is heading into this fall. In recent years, Republicans have used the threat of a government default to try to force big budget cuts, a tactic Carson appeared to endorse. But he also suggested that if he were president, he would have prevented a debt ceiling showdown entirely.
“If I was president, we wouldn’t be in this situation," he said. "I would have – long before we got to this stage – been looking at that and looking at other things because we always end up in the same situation. Your back's against the wall, you got to do it right now or we’re going to die, you know – you know, it’s the same crap every year. Why do we keep doing it?"
Carson is dominating the crowded Republican field, trailing only Donald Trump in national polls as the two campaign on bringing massive change to Washington. Both have made big promises about what they could do as leaders but struggle particularly on how they would make the numbers add up. Trump has promised a balanced budget, but his tax plan is estimated to add $12 trillion to the deficit and in the Marketplace interview, Carson was vague on how exactly he'd make the massive budget cuts he has promised.
Asked whether he would run on the same ticket as Trump, either as vice-president or president, Carson said he couldn't answer yet, adding that he would consider "compatibility issues" and "would consider everybody."