The rhetoric surrounding a gun-owners' privacy measure in Illinois got even more heated in recent days, as a pro-gun advocate defended the use of Holocaust imagery in making his case.
John Boch is the president of Guns Save Life, a Champaign, Ill.-based gun group that publishes the monthly newsletter GunNews. The April 2011 issue featured a striking graphic on its front cover (shown above): "Armed," it reads, over a picture of the Israeli flag with a rifle overlaid on it, "people fly their colors."
Next to that image, a photo of the yellow star that Jews in Europe were forced to wear during Nazi rule, with the text: "Disarmed, victims wear them."
The image was attached to a bold headline reading "MADIGAN'S LIST," an apparent reference to the film "Schindler's List," and a slight at a recent decision by the state's Attorney General.
In March of this year, Attorney General Lisa Madigan ruled on a Freedom of Information Act request made by the Associated Press. In order to own a gun in Illinois, any resident must apply for and receive a Firearm Owner's Identification Card (FOID). The AP wanted a list of all FOID card holders in the state.
Madigan's office ruled that the public had a legitimate interest in the list, and that the AP could have it. The decision chagrined many gun-rights groups, including Guns Save Life.
"[T]he slippery slope for the Jews in Germany began first with their identification, then disarmament then annihilation," the newsletter reads. "Under Attorney General Madigan’s plan, Illinois gun owners will be identified publicly and will stand on the precipice of their own slippery slope towards ends unknown."
But State Senator Ira Silverstein was one among many who felt that GunNews went too far. Silverstein is Jewish, and his district covers suburban Skokie, Illinois, which has such a high concentration of Holocaust survivors that a new museum devoted to the tragedy was recently opened there.
Silverstein spoke to the Chicago Sun-Times about the newsletter last week:
“This is a poor analogy, a very poor analogy,” said Silverstein... “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.
Silverstein had asked Boch to apologize for the remarks. But in an interview with FOX Chicago, he had a curt reply to that request.
"Hell, no," Boch said. “The mantra is supposed to be never forget and never again, not stick your head in the sand and whine like a little girl when you see Holocaust imagery."
He also claimed the support of the group Jews for Preservation of Firearm Ownership. Bernard Schoenburg of the State Journal-Register spoke to the interim director of that little-known group, Bob Meier, who said he is a Lutheran.