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Aaron Zelman, RIP

OMG. I just learned that Aaron Zelman, founder, guiding spirit, and chief cook and bottle washer of JPFO, has died. More than a week ago.

I woke up this morning to a reader’s letter, passed along by BHM’s webmaster, Oliver. I could hardly believe it. Then I found the above-linked mini-obituary that sadly says so little of the man. There should be so much more! I hope there will soon be tributes all over the ‘Net.

Aaron and I worked together for seven years. I admired him and even though he could be crazy-making at times, he had one of the most creative minds I’ve ever encountered and he was unfailingly a gentleman and a gentle-spoken man. He created a unique niche in the gun-rights movement and I hope JPFO can continue without him.

Aaron was born with Marfan Syndrome, which can cause a host of related problems, some potentially fatal. I don’t know what he died from, but between that and his Type-A, hard-driving nature, it’s not surprising, though it’s shocking and tragic, that he died so young. Rather, I tell myself it shouldn’t be surprising. Yet Aaron was such a powerful personality, it’s hard to think of him being extinguished.

UPDATE: Please see my comment with a request from JPFO and the Zelman family below this post.


  1. MamaLiberty
    MamaLiberty December 29, 2010 8:36 am

    Oh my gosh! I just talked with him on the phone a few months ago. We disagreed on a number of things, but I always counted him as one of the really special “good guys” in this fight for liberty.

    Didn’t know about the Marfan Syndrome. What a shame.

    He will be sorely missed. 🙁

  2. Lady Liberty
    Lady Liberty December 29, 2010 8:59 am

    I am so, so sorry to hear the news. I didn’t know him well or personally, but I am all too well aware of his impact on and in the freedom movement. He was steadfast in his efforts, and was invariably on whichever side of a debate favored liberty. He can never be replaced, but he and his work can continue to inspire. Could there BE a better legacy?

  3. RIP Aaron Zelman » Justin Buist
    RIP Aaron Zelman » Justin Buist December 29, 2010 9:28 am

    […] Aaron Zellman, founder of JPFO, passed away at the age of 64 on Dec 21. […]

  4. Sad news « Ry's Blog
    Sad news « Ry's Blog December 29, 2010 9:57 am

    […] Aaron Zelman, of Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership, has passed on. JPFO was the second RKBA organization I joined, back in the mid-90′s. Rest in peace. […]

  5. John and Dagny Galt
    John and Dagny Galt December 29, 2010 10:44 am

    Aaron Zelman, a true Brother in Liberty, R.I.P.

  6. Len Savage
    Len Savage December 29, 2010 11:08 am

    Aaron was a true friend. I was taken by surprise by his passing.

    He chose to live, and never tired of the fight for freedom.

    I will never forget him.

  7. Julian
    Julian December 29, 2010 11:37 am

    God have mercy – what an incredible loss!!!! I feel like I’ve been gut-punched. This man was one of a very small handful who, to me, embodied the fire and spirit of righteous resistance; a warrior who would not stand down, not retreat, not flinch when the enemy brought its heaviest armaments – physical and spiritual – against him.
    May we honor him by doubling our commitment to the cause. And on a more mundane level, may all who admired him, make a special memorial offering in his name to the JPFO ?

    God’s peace be upon you, Aaron Zelman. And God comfort the family and friends.

  8. Tweets that mention Living Freedom » Blog Archive » Aaron Zelman, RIP, claire - wolfe - blog - keywords - freedom - rights - personal --
    Tweets that mention Living Freedom » Blog Archive » Aaron Zelman, RIP, claire - wolfe - blog - keywords - freedom - rights - personal -- December 29, 2010 11:46 am

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Lew Rockwell. Lew Rockwell said: RT @billstclair: Aaron Zelman RIP. JPFO founder dies. […]

  9. Joel
    Joel December 29, 2010 11:47 am

    This is terrible news! I never actually met Aaron, though we did speak on the phone a couple of times. While I often questioned the wisdom of specific decisions he made wrt JPFO, his courage and dedication always shined through. If he ever once compromised his beliefs and principles, I never heard about it.

    The world is a poorer place.

  10. Jackie Juntti
    Jackie Juntti December 29, 2010 12:25 pm

    I just rec’d this more than sad news and knew that Claire MUST have some info so here I am.

    I remember all so well the day in 2002 I received my copy of “The State -vs- The People” by Aaron and Claire.

    Both Aaron and Claire autographed it for me. Aaron wrote:
    “Dear Jackie, Always Destroy Evil! – Aaron Zelman”

    We are losing so many of the true FREEDOM FIGHTERS – will there be enough younger people who will take their place? I wonder – and I hope.


  11. Claire
    Claire December 29, 2010 12:45 pm

    Well, I’ve received a bit more word from LaVonne, the secretary at JPFO. She has made a request that I don’t think it’s possible to comply with now.

    Apparently the Zelman family was trying to keep a lid on the news of Aaron’s death until they could make some plans for the future. They planned (and still plan) to make an official announcement sometime next week. But then a neighbor of the Zelmans wrote to BHM and I found the mini-obituary and blogged the news … and that genie was out of the bottle.

    I don’t think they realized how swiftly the ‘net picks up word — or how vast the respect for Aaron really is.

    LaVonne requests that comment be kept to a minimum until the family and JPFO put out their own announcement. Given the ‘net, it’s too late for that. But it might help them if we all refrained from contacting JPFO or the family about this until they’re ready.

    (Jackie — he hardly needed to tell you to fight evil; you’re pretty darned good at that. Julian — your words and your suggestion are powerful stuff. Len Savage — you’re as much a hero as Aaron was, and anybody who doesn’t know why should google you. Everybody — thanks for giving a damn. Aaron really was all that Julian and others are saying about him.)

  12. Winston
    Winston December 29, 2010 1:08 pm

    That’s lousy news…

  13. Aaron Zelman, RIP « Blog
    Aaron Zelman, RIP « Blog December 29, 2010 1:30 pm

    […] Wolfe writes about the passing of the great defender of the right to keep and bear arms, and founder of Jews for […]

  14. Kevin3%
    Kevin3% December 29, 2010 1:42 pm

    Terrible news!

    Losing a fighter like Zellman is a tragic loss for freedom lovers everywhere.

    I never met the man but spoke with him once while ordering some of the JPFO pamphlets. It was just prior to the Republican nomination of Bob Dole for Pres. I commented that it looks like they are going to nominate another “moderate”. To which Aaron responded, “we need another moderate like we need a new strain of gonorrhea.” I still laugh at that witty reply!

    I enjoyed reading his collaborative work he did with you, Claire. THE STATE -V- THE PEOPLE.

    He will be greatly missed. Condolences to his family.

  15. Aaron Zelman, Great Jewish-American Fought Against Gun Control, of Blessed Memory
    Aaron Zelman, Great Jewish-American Fought Against Gun Control, of Blessed Memory December 29, 2010 2:01 pm

    […] for American liberty and stand up for Jews like me who don’t buy into the liberal crap. Read more about Aaron Zelman from one of his co-authors, Claire Wolfe of Backwoods Home Magazine.Aaron Zelman, Zichrono LiVrachah [Blessed Be His Memory].//LinkWithinCodeStart var […]

  16. Patrice Stanton
    Patrice Stanton December 29, 2010 2:19 pm

    A shock and a great loss. Fortunate to have met this doggedly-determined man once in the mid-90’s and I must say he was one of those rare few whom I’d childishly hoped would live “forever”.

  17. Death of a Lion: Aaron Zelman, RIP | The Federal Observer
    Death of a Lion: Aaron Zelman, RIP | The Federal Observer December 29, 2010 2:19 pm

    […] Published December 29, 2010, at Backwood Home […]

  18. Hugh Frost
    Hugh Frost December 29, 2010 3:34 pm

    Baruch Dayan Emet.

  19. Liberty and Freedom for All » Blog Archive » JPFO founder has died
    Liberty and Freedom for All » Blog Archive » JPFO founder has died December 29, 2010 3:48 pm

    […] just ran across this on Claire Wolfe’s blog. I never knew him, but […]

  20. Aaron Zelman, RIP - Orange Punch : The Orange County Register
    Aaron Zelman, RIP - Orange Punch : The Orange County Register December 29, 2010 4:16 pm

    […] his family wanted to wait to prepare for the aftermath before it became too public, but it has hit the Internet. Aaron Zelman, founder of Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership, has died too young at […]

  21. Samuel Adams
    Samuel Adams December 29, 2010 4:44 pm

    The world is a freer place for his work.

  22. Beth
    Beth December 29, 2010 5:01 pm

    Such sad and shocking news. Condolences to you who knew and loved him personally and/or professionally.

    Aaron seemed to have a special flair for drama and ethics. The State vs. The People was a strong read. Same with RebelFire: Out of the Gray Zone…let’s not forget that little gem, please…

  23. Elias Alias
    Elias Alias December 29, 2010 5:30 pm

    I deeply regret the loss of a supportive friend. On behalf of Oath Keepers, I extend our sincere condolences to his family and friends. I was blessed to have numerous phone conversations with him, and the support of JPFO for The Oath Keeper newspaper, which features his work and organization regularly. He will be sorely missed, but I’ll do all I can to preserve his great name and his selfless body of work on behalf of a free America.
    Blessings and comfort to his family and many friends.

  24. Cooper
    Cooper December 29, 2010 6:23 pm


    Tell us what you need!!

    There are thousands of us that are here for you!!

    Your sacrifices are legion in the support of Aaron.

    Let us step up for your support. Please.


  25. Mas Ayoob
    Mas Ayoob December 29, 2010 6:25 pm

    I knew him as a righteous, honest, and zealous man.

    Claire, thank you for letting us know. In deference to the family wishes that you passed on to us, I’ll hold off a while before I mention it in my own blog.

    My condolences. We’ve lost one of the most powerful voices in the movement.

    Mas Ayoob

  26. Claire
    Claire December 29, 2010 6:27 pm

    Cooper — If that’s a joke, it isn’t a very good one and this is a crappy moment for it.

  27. Claire
    Claire December 29, 2010 6:42 pm

    Thank you, Mas. I’d like to say it’s good to see you here — but not under these circumstances. I’ll look forward to hearing what you have to write about Aaron after the family has made their announcement.

    It’s odd how the news came in. It was a neighbor of Aaron’s who wrote an email to the letters section of BHM. It was pure happenstance that Oliver (knowing I’d worked with Aaron) forwarded the email to me. Because it came so many days after Aaron’s death, I figured I was among the last, not among the first, to know.

    Given the family’s wishes, I’d rather now that I had not blogged it.

  28. Chris
    Chris December 29, 2010 9:25 pm

    I never met Aaron, but knew of him because of his tireless work to maintain the Liberties of Americans.

    My regrets to his family and to JPFO, one of our most ardent Patriots has gone to muster. Salute!

  29. UnReconstructed
    UnReconstructed December 29, 2010 10:09 pm

    What sad news. Aaron Zelman….he was righteous. After I got sick of the NRA selling me down the river, I poked around with a few of the alphabet soup folk….goa, ccrkba….but found JPFO …probably from a gunshow, Claire or my brother…I became a life member….talked to Aaron couple of times…(I hope that my memory of thanking him isn’t wishful)

    I loved the newsletter and the Grandpa Jack booklets.

    I knew he would not compromise…he was one of the good guys, and I loved his fierceness.

    What a loss.

  30. George Potter
    George Potter December 30, 2010 12:15 am


    Goodbye, sir.

  31. Heather
    Heather December 30, 2010 12:17 am

    Oh, I am sorry to hear that! Liberty has lost one of her greatest champions in our time.

  32. Starchild
    Starchild December 30, 2010 1:36 am

    I didn’t know Aaron except by reputation through his work with JPFO and L. Neil Smith, but I certainly respected him as a comrade in arms, figuratively speaking. The struggle for freedom will continue, though I am sure this bold leader will be missed.

  33. SteveInSD
    SteveInSD December 30, 2010 2:07 am

    Sad news. I never met him, but have been a regular visitor to JFPO. Will continue to make good use of the materials he provided, videos, booklets, etc. We are stronger because of him.

  34. Attack the System » Blog Archive » R.I.P. Aaron Zelman
    Attack the System » Blog Archive » R.I.P. Aaron Zelman December 30, 2010 5:55 am

    […] The leader of Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership has died. See obituaries here and here. […]

  35. DrillSgtK
    DrillSgtK December 30, 2010 8:26 am

    I always had on hand the Grandpa Jack books when I would run my Warsaw Ghetto Shoot out. They helped soften the “guns are ok for you, with military training, but not for everyone” feeling of some of my co-workers I would invite every year.

    Mr. Zelman’s work and founding of the JPFO really did make a difference in at least three people who were 100% against private ownership of weapons, one of who is now a multi-gun owner herself.

    I do hope the JPFO continues, I’m sending in a renewal of my membership on the 1st after I get paid. (it is due in March, but it will make me feel better.)


  36. Stewart Rhodes
    Stewart Rhodes December 30, 2010 3:49 pm

    I learned of Aaron’s passing from David Codrea. This is truly a tragic loss. Aaron was a man of great integrity and courage. I was privileged to do a few articles for JPFO, and to brainstorm a bit with Aaron. As others have said, he was truly a brilliant man, but even more than that, he was utterly consistent in his fearless defense of the Bill of Rights.

    It didn’t matter what party was in power, when they violated the Bill of Rights, he opposed them full-bore. And unlike some others in the Second Amendment field, and also their counterparts on the left, Aaron cared about the entire Bill of Rights, not just some cherry picked favorite part. He urged us to adopt a Bill of Rights culture.

    The long struggle for liberty has lost one of its greatest champions.

    Like Mas Ayoob, I will wait to post a tribute to Aaron on the Oath Keepers site until we see an official announcement on JPFO or until the family otherwise announces his passing.

    As Elias said, we will sorely miss Aaron, and we will do all we can to see that his impact carries forward. To his family and JPFO, we extend our help with anything we can possibly do.

    From my family, and from all at Oath Keepers, we extend our heartfelt condolences and prayers to his family and friends.

    Stewart Rhodes

  37. CS
    CS December 31, 2010 9:53 am

    Even as his family grieves and we try to comfort them and ourselves as best we may, we should temper our sense of loss with the recognition of a life well lived.

    His death was untimely and tragic and leaves a void impossible to fill. Yet, he accomplished more than many of us could if we had twice his span. It now falls to us to fill that void to the very best of our abilities.

    It is proper to mourn his passing, but rejoice that he was among us. He graced us with many fine examples to follow. He never gave an inch in the pursuit of what was right and was the staunchest ally we had, even though many of us never had the privilege of meeting him.

    Even though freedom is on the ropes literally everywhere, Aaron Zelman and others like him showed that it was possible to reclaim a fundamental right, that of armed self-defense, from the very mouth of the beast.

    In his memory, keep up that fight.


  38. Paul Bonneau
    Paul Bonneau December 31, 2010 10:00 am

    This is very sad news. Who could possibly replace him? And it is too bad he was not able to see the end of the empire he was always fighting.

  39. Cory Brickner
    Cory Brickner January 4, 2011 2:18 pm

    As a member of, and benefactor to JPFO for about 20 years, I will miss Aaron very much. I’ve been struggling with the implications of his passing for about a week and all I can say is the world has lost a great man. He incessantly pursued liberty and the truth when all others wanted compromise and to satiate special interests. Life is fleeting and fragile. It makes me sad to think that Aaron will now be an immortal part of history instead of fighting the good fight in the present. Rest in peace Aaron. May your family find comfort in their loss remembering all the wonderful things you’ve done and people you’ve touched throughout the years.

  40. Van Cronkhite
    Van Cronkhite January 6, 2011 5:14 pm

    I am so saddened by the loss of Aaron Zelman. I did not know him personally but spoke to him many times, and own all his books and DVD’s. I came to BHM about a year before ASG folded. I came to JPFO after getting tired of the NRA. I have been a continuous member of JPFO since the year 2000. I gave as generously as I could to all Mr. Zelman and JPFO did, and am now so proud to be one of the producers of “No Guns for Jews”. It seemed to me that JPFO did more for freedom with about 6,000 members than the NRA does with their 4 million. I hope JPFO can continue into the future.

    With great respect for Mr. Zelman I send my condolences to him family and friends.
    Van Cronkhite
    Miami, FL

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