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Seeking guidance on a tough issue? Well, what would Hitler do? Add to ...

“While I retracted my comments, the similarities between the two are very clear and you can't convince me of otherwise.” – Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound MP Larry Miller

I imagine not, Mr. Miller, but I am still compelled to try.

The comments to which Mr. Miller refers are those he made during a debate on the gun registry in the House of Commons – remarks he then retracted after complaints from the opposition. Among other things Mr. Miller said of Canada's gun registry was: “That is what Adolf Hitler tried to do in the 1930s.”

And so (deep breath in) here begins the re-education (yes, I'm Mao) of Larry Miller.

The story that Adolf Hitler is the father of gun control is popular among those who oppose any sort of restrictions on firearms. This is the quote they often use: “This year will go down in history! For the first time, a civilized nation has full gun registration! Our streets will be safer, our police more efficient, and the world will follow our lead into the future!”

The year is usually given as 1935. The quote is sometimes said to be from Mein Kampf, or sometimes from one of Hitler's speeches.

In fact, there's no record of Hitler ever having said any such thing, and he changed Germany's gun-control laws (actually introduced in 1928 under the Weimar regime) very little.

However, he did write this in Mein Kampf (published 1925-26): “Since in my free time I received singing lessons in the cloister at Lambach, I had excellent opportunity to intoxicate myself with the solemn splendour of the brilliant church festivals. As was only natural, the abbot seemed to me, as the village priest had once seemed to my father, the highest and most desirable ideal.”

That quote isn't disputed. Which is why, unless you support a ban on singing, abbots or church festivals, it's facile and tasteless to invoke real or imagined Hitler quotes, or indeed actions, in aid of whatever unassociated cause you're pushing.

Of course, I don't know that the false Hitler gun-registration quote was the inspiration for Mr. Miller's warning. But the fact that he also claimed that retired senator Sharon Carstairs once said that registering hunting rifles is “the first step in the social re-engineering of Canadians” – something she denies, with no evidence to the contrary – suggests that he's a fan of manufactured quotes.

Since Mr. Miller withdrew the retraction demanded by the House the next day – essentially saying, “I retract my statement, but I do want to point out what an awesome statement it was!” – I think he should be asked to expound on his theories and their source a little further. I, for one, am listening.

If it turns out that Mr. Miller's true concern about the Canadian gun registry stems from a fear that any regulations around the possession of weapons will ultimately pose a threat to the safety of Jews, and he manages to convince us in this matter (perhaps he has some secret knowledge of 1930s German arms-control law that has eluded scholars so far), then, yes, the rest of Canada ought to know.

In fact, our government should really take this issue up with Israel, for example, at the soonest possible moment, because Israel is one of many countries with numerous restrictions and regulations regarding weapons.

On the other hand, perhaps Mr. Miller's concern is that, somewhere down the road, the gun registry will be used to facilitate the seizure of weapons belonging to some currently unpopular or mistrusted minority in order to persecute them. Then perhaps he could be persuaded to sponsor a bill ensuring that, say, gay people, Muslims and people who really don't think Portlandia is funny are exempted from these gun-registration rules. It might help him sleep at night.

I wouldn't want to accuse Mr. Miller of exploiting the deaths of millions of people in order to advance an entirely unrelated political agenda without giving him another chance to clarify his remarks.

Yes, I could dismiss his statement as just a few more gratuitous Nazi references in a sea of gratuitous Nazi references. But I like to believe that every MP is committed to ensuring that the tone of our national debate is always kept level with, at a bare minimum, that employed during a Usenet flame war concerning the relative virtues of Captains Kirk and Picard.

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Follow on Twitter: @TabathaSouthey

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