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L. Neil Smith's
Number 610, March 13, 2011

"Much food for thought"

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The Legacy of Aaron Zelman
by Sean Gangol

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Special to The Libertarian Enterprise

I know this tribute is a little late, but for the past few months I have found myself busy with other matters and I have just recently gotten around to writing again. I was saddened to hear about the passing of Aaron Zelman last December. I never had the pleasure of meeting the man, but I feel that his legacy has influenced me in ways that I am just now realizing. One of the biggest influences he had on me was his creation of Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership (JPFO), the most aggressive freedom fighting organization in the country. I discovered the organization back in 2000, the same year I joined the NRA and bought my first .22 caliber rifle.

I found the JPFO website when I was doing research on victim disarmament laws. As soon as I clicked onto its link, I was amazed at how brutally honest the organization was. They were totally uncompromising about their views on the evils of gun prohibition. Their goal wasn't to defend the Second Amendment against certain gun laws, but to actually destroy gun control at its very roots.

The one problem that I had with the NRA is that they didn't seem as aggressive as they should have been. Whenever I saw a NRA spokesperson debate with an anti-gun zealot on TV, it seemed like the anti-gun side would always have the upper hand. Part of it was due to media bias, but the spokespersons for the NRA would seem more passive then argumentative. The anti-gun side would start off by pulling statistics out of thin air and it would go unchallenged by the NRA side. It looked as if the pro-gun side hadn't done their homework. I had done enough research to know that most of the rhetoric that spewed out of the mouths of the anti-gunners had no basis in fact. Yet, the representatives for the NRA would never call them on it. I couldn't believe that an organization as massive as the NRA didn't have the same access to the information that I had.

JPFO on the other hand, wasn't afraid to pull any punches. They exposed gun control for what it really was; a tool used by elitists, racists and fascists to pave the way for oppression, tyranny and eventual genocide. To me this destroys any argument that the anti-gun side has ever conceived. It then occurred to me; why doesn't the NRA use the same arguments? Of course that was before I realized that the NRA had a long history of compromising with the enemy. The fact that they were calling for the enforcement of existing gun laws instead of their repeal, should have been my first clue.

When I joined JPFO, I was introduced to two great novels, which were advertised on their website. One of them was Mitzvah written by L. Neil Smith and Aaron Zelman. Even though I thought it was an excellent book, it was actually the sequel Hope that guided me down the path of libertarianism. Hope was about a truly libertarian president, who promises hope and change (sound familiar?) Unlike some presidents, he actually delivers on his promises by enforcing the Bill of Rights. Mitzvah had a great premise, with the idea of a Catholic priest discovering that he had a Jewish heritage, while gaining a new insight on the virtues of individual liberty. The only thing I didn't like about it was the downbeat ending. I preferred the optimistic ending in Hope.

For a long time I credited L. Neil Smith for introducing me to the fundamentals of libertarianism, but the more I thought about it, I realized that Aaron Zelman also played a hand in it. Not only did he co-write the novel that influenced my beliefs, but it was his organization that introduced me to the novel.

Even though I never knew Aaron Zelman personally, it is sad that we have lost such a great freedom fighter. His legacy has left us with two of the greatest pro-freedom novels ever written and an organization that treats the right to keep and bear arms as a natural right that isn't subject to compromise. For those who love freedom, he should always be remembered as one of its greatest defenders.


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