Aaron Zelman, founder of Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership, passed away on December 21. Zelman did excellent work in advancing the firearms policy discussion during the last two decades. His most notable contribution was research pointing out the frequency with which genocide has been preceded by prohibiting arms possession by the targeted victims. For example, his co-authored book Lethal Laws offered case studies of Nazi Germany, the Soviet Union, Mao’s China, Cambodia, Guatemala, Uganda, and Armenia. I reviewed the book in a 1995 symposium for the New York Law School Journal of International and Comparative Law. That book is now out of print, but a newer and updated book on the subject, Death by Gun Control, is available.
Although I thought Zelman sometimes stated his conclusions with more certitude than the evidence supported, his overall contribution to the debate was outstanding. Back in 1995, when Newt Gingrich was the then-new Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, he urged the Republican caucus to read Lethal Laws.
Aaron Zelman dedicated his life to making “Never again!” a reality and not a platitude. He earned a place of honor with the many Jewish scholars who have used the talents which G-d gave them to save the G-d given freedom and lives of innocent people all over the world.