U.S. Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska) asked a crowd in his home state, "How many Jews were put into the ovens because they were unarmed?"
Young's remark came at a conference last week after Dimitri Shein — a Democrat running for Young's congressional seat — stood up in the audience and asked what can be done "to stop the massacre of children in our schools?"
Shein didn't identify himself a congressional candidate at the time of his question, USA Today reported.
What else did Young say?
Prior to his remark about Jews and ovens, Young gave a passionate response to Shein's question, noting that "video games" and the "structure of the family" must be examined as gun-violence factors.
"Have you watched what they're watching?" Young, 84, asked regarding kids and video games. "It's the worst I've ever seen. It's violent beyond anyone's imagination."
Young also said that until recently kids brought guns to school "every day," and "they didn't shoot anybody ... it's easy to blame [an] object."
He also said he supports "guns on teachers" and that his "goal is to make sure my family is not attacked by some idiot."
Soon Young asked, "How many millions of people were shot and killed because they were unarmed? Fifty million in Russia because their citizens were unarmed." He then asked, "How many Jews were put into the ovens because they were unarmed?"
Here's a clip of Young's comments:
What did Young's spokeswoman have to say about his remark?
Young spokeswoman Murphy McCollough told USA Today that his comment about Jews was taken out of context.
"He was referencing the fact that when Hitler confiscated firearms from Jewish Germans, those communities were less able to defend themselves," McCollough told the paper in an email. "He was not implying that an armed Jewish population would have been able to prevent the horrors of the Holocaust, but his intended message is that disarming citizens can have detrimental consequences."
How did Shein respond to the spokeswoman's comment?
Shein told USA Today he disagreed with McCollough's explanation, saying Young had been trying to deflect the gun issue by blaming video game violence and referencing the Holocaust rather than answering his question or offering a solution.
More from the paper:
Young — who has been Congress since 1973 and is the longest-serving member of Congress currently in office — has a reputation for making controversial comments. Last year, he had to apologize for referring to a fellow lawmaker in her 50s as "young lady" who didn't know what she was talking about. In 2014, he apologized for saying suicide showed a lack of support from friends and family. And back in 2013, he apologized after referring to Hispanic migrant workers as "wetbacks."