I was deeply saddened to learn from Alan Gottlieb that Joe Tartaro passed away this week.

I consider Joe the Grand Old Man of the gun owners’ civil rights movement.  He was pushing 90 and still amazingly active.  The longtime president of the Second Amendment Foundation (SAF), which he had helped to foster with Alan, Joe was also one of the prime movers of the Cincinnati Revolt in 1977.  That was the profound sea change in which Joe and other activists turned the National Rifle Association from a group of hunters and target shooters into the gun rights activism powerhouse that it is today, called by some the most powerful lobbying entity in Washington.

Joe Tartaro at the podium

I met Joe back in the ‘70s at an SAF gathering in Boston.  I got to know him better during the many years I served under him on the SAF Board of Trustees. He was a friend and mentor to me as he was to many, many people.  Joe was a walking encyclopedia of gun legislation knowledge and strategic political savvy.  He was among the first to cultivate women and minorities into the movement, the publisher of not only Gun Week that morphed into Gun Mag but also Women & Guns magazine, ably edited by his daughter Peggy Tartaro.

He stood in the top tier of the leaders of the gun owners’ civil rights movement, and helped create the annual Gun Rights Policy Conference, which will take place in Orlando this coming September, a conclave that will hopefully be dedicated to his memory.  Despite his fame, Joe was totally approachable, a down-to-earth man with a wonderful dry sense of humor that never left him.  When his gravelly voice came over the microphone at the GRPC, you could hear a pin drop: when Joe spoke, the several hundred civil rights activists who came from all over the country listened. I don’t know of anyone who did more than Joe to promote grass-roots activism at the state and community level on gun owner’s rights and self-defense issues.

May he rest in peace after a long and successful career of fighting for what is right. We have lost one of our strongest voices.  It is up to all of us to live up to his memory and continue his legacy in the dark days we are now experiencing.


  1. The Old Guard is slowly departing. They will be missed.

    Off topic, and my apologies for that, but I can’t find another way to contact you – In a series of photos for Personal Defense World .com (Greg Ellifritz linked to it) you are wearing a cover vest – what is the brand name of that vest?

    • Any of several. In IDPA I wear the Armadillo brand. Just out and about, mostly the 5.11 brand. (More pockets.)

  2. Thank You Mr. AYOOB! Ihave never had the privilege of meeting g you face to face. But I consider you my mentor. I hope th hat you and your family are doing well in these strange times we are experiencing.

  3. He is in God’s hands now! I did not know this gentleman but after reading Massad’s article I know that this is a man that we rally need right now! May God truly bless this man!!

  4. Thank you for this blog post Ayoob! As Joe’s Grandson, I was moved by your words. The world has lost a tremendous man. R.I.P.

  5. Wow! When I read that Joe Tartaro was a mover and shaker at the NRA Cincinnati Revolt in 1977, AND got women and minorities into the sport, I realized what a different world we would be living in without Joe and others like him. Imagine if the other side of that revolt, the gunners who wanted to steer clear of politics, had prevailed! Instead of being thankful I can shoot my guns at the range here in NJ, I might be thankful NJ allows me to shoot my 35-pound recurve bow at the range.

    It is quite possible Joe Tartaro and others saved America. Imagine living in an American city experiencing the riots and looting RIGHT NOW and not owning guns to protect your family. I’d be quaking in my boots, instead of breathing calmly. I guess Antifa is only burning buildings, breaking windows and looting businesses right now, but what comes next? Call the police? You mean those overworked individuals who are ordered to stand down and do nothing while things are thrown at them? Call the police so they can arrest looters, only to have them let out of the jail so they don’t get COVID-19? Yeah, right. We owe a gigantic debt of gratitude to Joe Tartaro and the others who preserved our Second Amendment right.

Comments are closed.