The chair of the Michigan Republican Party refused to apologize for several social media posts that linked Democratic-backed gun reform bills to the Holocaust on Wednesday, saying the GOP wouldn’t “run away” from its position or apologize.
The maelstrom began early Wednesday after the official accounts for the Michigan GOP posted a photograph of wedding rings collected by the Germans from Holocaust victims during World War II. The image includes a line of text reading: “Before they collected all these wedding rings ... they collected all the guns,” an apparent dig at Democrats currently advancing several gun reform bills in the Michigan Legislature. One would expand background checks for gun purchases and another that would require gun owners to safely store firearms at home when children are present.
Lawmakers are also trying to enact a “red flag” law that would allow a judge to temporarily limit access to guns for those who are deemed to be at an increased risk of harming themselves or others.
The messages prompted immediate pushback from lawmakers on both sides of the aisle. But Kristina Karamo, the chair of the Michigan Republican Party, issued a fierce defense of the messages before holding a bizarre news conference in which she said people get “way too offended.”
“We’re a different Republican Party,” Karamo said, according to The Detroit News. “We are not the Republican Party who apologizes and runs away from our positions. It’s a reason the Republican Party has gotten kicked in the teeth the last three cycles. Because it’s been a party that’s always apologizing. We’re done.”
“What amazes me is that people are troubled by drawing comparisons between historical events and current events,” she added. “We love the phrase that history repeats itself. But yet when we point to history, somehow that’s controversial. I will not tolerate that. I will not apologize for that,”
Karamo, an election denier who lost a race to become Michigan’s secretary of state last year, went on to debate Rabbi Asher Lopatin, the executive director of the Jewish Community Relations Council, who was in the audience.
“This demonstrates a lack of sensitivity that we really have in our political system,” he said at the event. “When you reference the Holocaust, you have to realize it is such a tender and sensitive and hurtful issue for the the Jewish people.”
Michigan lawmakers added to the firestorm.
“Comparing gun safety measures to the mass extermination of 6 million people is hateful & ignorant, and it comes from party leaders who are out of ideas & catering to the fringe of the fringe,” Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D-Mich.) wrote on Twitter. “Delete it, apologize, and figure out what kind of party you want to be.”
“This tweet by @MIGOP is absolutely inappropriate and offensive and should be taken down immediately,” Matt Brooks, the CEO of the Republican Jewish Coalition, wrote.
The Michigan GOP accounts doubled down on the tweet later Wednesday, saying the “only thing vile is that the @MichiganDems is incrementally seeking to disarm citizens.”