The Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle is calling on National Rifle Association’s top state lobbyist Brian Judy to step down after comments he appeared to make last week at a gathering of opponents to Initiative 594’s push to require background checks on gun sales.
Judy, a well-known figure in Olympia’s legislative halls, drew parallels between gun control and Nazism in remarks captured by video later posted to YouTube. Based in Sacramento, he did not return a call or email asking for his comment Monday.
The Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle put out a news release Monday saying it and members of the Jewish community condemned what Judy appeared to have said in an “attempt to link policies to reduce gun violence to the Holocaust. The Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle calls upon Mr. Judy to resign his position with the National Rifle Association.”
The federation noted that “eight years ago today, the Jewish Federation was the target of a violent attack by an individual harboring dangerous falsehoods about Jews — falsehoods that continue to exist on the fringes of our society. It is deeply offensive for anyone to suggest that Jewish supporters of gun violence prevention have "forgotten" the history of our people. For a representative of the National Rifle Association, or any organization, to repeat the out-of-touch falsehood linking gun violence prevention to Nazi Germany and the Holocaust is not only an ignorant distortion but is exceedingly dangerous.”
The federation also held a news conference at Tuesday morning in Seattle to further address the issue, which came to light after liberal website horsesass.org posted the video.
Judy’s attack on gun-control was aimed in part at wealthy Seattle investor Nick Hanauer, who has contributed $385,000 to the I-594 effort and whose family left Germany for the U.S., according to Judy.
“He’s put a half million dollars for this (gun-control) policy, the same policy that led to his family getting run out of Germany by the Nazis. You know it’s staggering to me. You can’t make this stuff up,’’ Judy says on the video. “It’s like, any Jewish people I meet who are anti-gun I think, are you serious? Did you not remember what happened? And why did that happen? It’s because they registered guns and took them. And now come to this country and support gun control? … Is anybody home here?”
“It’s really sad the level of understanding some people have of history,” Judy added in the video.
Proponents of I-594 include the federation, and one of its leading voices is Cheryl Stumbo, who was injured by the 2006 shooting.
Sen. David Frockt and Rep. Reuven Carlyle, both Democrats and Jewish state lawmakers from Seattle, took offense at Judy’s comments. In a statement sent to reporters, Frockt and Carlyle said:
“The comments made by the NRA lobbyist are highly offensive on many levels and completely out of touch with the views of Washington voters. In 2014, it is really shameful to hear a key political operative stereotype whole groups of people when they think the doors are closed and the cameras are off. The reality is that that this measure has a broad and diverse coalition of support, including the Seattle Times editorial board and nearly 350,000 people in this state who signed a petition asking it to be placed on the ballot. These comments are an insult to everyone who supports reducing gun violence in our community, whatever their faith or political views. Moreover, the comments trivialize both the Holocaust and the current debate in Washington in 2014 about whether this state should close the loophole in our background check system as one part of our overall gun violence prevention strategy. Comparing any legitimate policy debate in this state to what happened in Nazi Germany is a bridge too far, and it has no place in our political discourse. Period.”
I-594 is one of two gun-related measures on the ballot this November. I-591, which drew roughly the same number of signatures, is a gun-rights measure that would bar further background check requirements until national action required it.