Jews for Preservation of Firearms Ownership (JPFO) approached Second Amendment Foundation (SAF) with a view toward SAF taking over the financially foundering JPFO. Many in JPFO were not pleased. There has been some badmouthing of the Second Amendment Foundation and its leader Alan Gottlieb lately.  Having known Alan for decades and having served for many years on SAF’s board of trustees, I feel compelled to offer a word or two.

It was Gottlieb’s vision decades ago which, through SAF, funded much of the scholarly legal research published in respected law journals which today is recognized as authoritatively repudiating many “gun control” arguments. It was SAF that gave impetus to the two greatest US Supreme Court precedents supporting individual rights under the Second Amendment, Heller v. District of Columbia and McDonald, et al v. City of Chicago. And SAF is extremely active at the grassroots level as well, as seen here on Fox News.

One commentator said the late founder of JPFO, Aaron Zelman, did not respect Alan Gottlieb and the Second Amendment Foundation. Excuse me? I knew Aaron Zelman, and recall seeing him attending and speaking at the SAF-sponsored Gun Rights Policy Conference.  Aaron was no two-faced hypocrite; I’m sure he would not have supported with his attendance an organization of which he disapproved.

I’ve heard Alan and SAF criticized for their choice of lawyers. Um, excuse me? Are they talking about Alan Gura, the brilliant lawyer who won those great victories for the Second Amendment in the Supreme Court of the United States? Both Alans are Jewish, Gura presently in Tel Aviv I’m told; are there members of Jews For Preservation of Firearms Ownership who bash two of the strongest fighters for the Second Amendment who are Jews themselves? What?

Speaking only for myself, it appears to me that SAF is the ship willing to pick up the survivors of the sinking JPFO, and to get them back sailing again on the course that Aaron Zelman founded for his great organization.  If members of JPFO are able to keep the original organization afloat, more power to them.  If not, I would much rather see SAF take the helm and keep JPFO on course instead of watching JPFO and its accomplishments sink beneath the waves.

All who read this are invited to attend the GRPC. There is no fee, and attendees receive a substantial amount of research materials. Over two days, they’ll hear from the best and the brightest in the pro-gun movement, encompassing national and grassroots organizations alike. Information is available here. Come and talk with Alan Gottlieb and others from SAF, and judge for yourself.




  1. This makes sense. I’d love to see JPFO live on as an independent organization. However, JPFO’s legacy needs to live on; this may be a way to do so.

  2. This should be a wake-up call to the JPFO members who have been happy to let the executive board handle things. There’s more to supporting an organization than just sending a check every year.

  3. It may be that Zelman approved of SAF, but not Gottlieb. I suspect that is the case for a lot of people now, after the disclosure that Gottlieb was one of the authors of the Manchin-Toomey bill. I still haven’t heard anything from him explaining that seemingly idiotic endevour. Talk about shooting yourself in the foot. He p***ed off a lot of people in the RTKBA sphere (I’d say “gun rights”, but it’s been pointed out that guns don’t have rights).

  4. I’ve seen the grousing, and was worried about the effects of such infighting.. Thanks for the clarity. There is only one enemy we need to be fighting.. Not each other!

  5. If any group should be staunch pro-gun I would think that the Jewish people would be in the forefront, when you consider what happened in the haulecaust.

    Unfortunately, in various groups, eventually politics rears its head and takes up costly time and produces hard feelings all around.

    In IL we now have pre-emption. In Rockford we still have handgun registration for any handgun purchased within the city limits. Perhaps the SAF could send a letter to the Mayor’s office.

    I have my hotel reservation in and have registered for the GRPC. Looking forward to seeing you, Mas.

  6. Mas, you appear to have observed Aaron from afar. I worked with him closely for seven years. I assure you that he did indeed despise Alan Gottlieb and considered SAF to be primarily a fundraising machine that used barrages of scary mail to pull money out of people.

    Yes, he spoke at the GRPC. Lots of people do because it’s an important forum. That doesn’t necessarily constitute approval of Gottlieb or SAF.

    Many, many others (including some commentors on my blog) have testified to Aaron’s opinion of Gottlieb and all his works.

    Above all, however, Aaron’s JPFO had a hardcore, uncompromising attitude — which SAF does not and never will. Gottlieb says he’s going to keep JPFO independent, but no matter what he says, no real JPFO attitude will every be allowed to live under SAF control. Just as (an earlier Gottlieb acquisition) did, JPFO will turn boring, softcore, and compromising and will eventually disappear as an important and unique voice.

    There is already one viable effort to keep JPFO independent and strong, but the JPFO board — which has shamefully mismanaged JPFO since Aaron died — won’t even acknowledge it. Other, possibly even stronger, efforts could be made to save JPFO — if the SAF deal weren’t being conducted in such unholy haste and secrecy.

  7. I’m a member of SAF and JPFO.
    While I feel there is an absolute need for the Jewish people to be pro-gun, I’m not sure how much good JPFO is doing. They are an educational organization, some of their offerings are pro-freedom novels, anti ATF and pro-rights videos and some dated and goofy and dated Grandpa Jack brochures.
    OTOH, SAF is fighting massive battles in the courts to actively take back our rights, as well as Gottlieb’s ubiquitous appearances all over the media.
    Perhaps SAF oversight could infuse some more energy and effectiveness into the “Never Again” folks.

  8. We all must simply find a way to be united! NOW is no time to be divided – does the phrase: “Divide and conquer” sound familiar to anyone? Can you imagine what ANY anti-gunner thinks when he reads all of this negativity? Is there anyone else who thinks a certain Michael Bloomberg has something to do with all of this? Please folks – I’m just a blue collar working schlep who loves his guns AND his gun rights. we can – and MUST, do better!

  9. Welcome, Claire.

    Why would Aaron despise Alan and SAF for fund-raising (donations, sales of books etc., memberships) when Aaron and JPFO depended on exactly the same income sources, as for that matter NRA did and does?

    You say that Aaron despised Alan and “all his works.” Did that include Alan’s and SAF’s critical role in Heller v. DC?

  10. Mas, I never said that Aaron despised Gottlieb merely for selling books or raising funds.

    I also never said or implied “all his works.”

    You’re putting words into my mouth.

  11. Alan Gottlieb’s attempt at “compromise” viz the Manchin-Toomey Bill overstrode (much bigger than a step) the line for me.
    It wasn’t a compromise; it was a capitulation & an exceedingly dangerous one at that, as it would have made recording every lawful gun owner a fact, no matter what is said about no gun owner registration.
    I know where that leads, as I’m stuck with those consequences here in the UK, with draconian restrictions on firearms ownership & defensive firearms to all intent banned.
    I’d like Mr Gottlieb to explain the thinking behind what he attempted & if he now thinks it was a wrong move (which his current opposition to I-594 appears to show), he needs to admit it & apologise.
    Until such time, I’ll withold any support for SAF & any takeover of JPFO.

  12. I’d love to attend GRPC but…. Chicago!

    You must be kidding! I vote with my precious nickles and dimes and Chicago won’t get a single one. I’ll attend when they hold GRPC in a gun friendly location where I can carry and feel that my monetary contributions to the local economy won’t be used against me.

    SAF contributor and NRA Life member.

  13. The legalistic approach to increasing freedom does not work. We know it fails because the overall average of freedom to act, documented for instance by the index of economic freedom from the Heritage Foundation, shows a trend of exponential decay of freedom. This trend holds despite recent narrow reversals about guns. If one is a whitish person who shoots a blackish person, two of the highest ranking law enforcement officers, the president and the attorney general, may talk trash about your case before the trial has completed, a trial which will bankrupt you. That’s how much “freedom” the recent gun-related court cases have produced.

    In the last hundred years, the technological capability of individual transportation has increased from horses to the jet airplane. In that same timeframe, the personal defense weapon, the handgun, has not increased in the number of simultaneous enemies it can address. This gun control has been amazingly successful, and the reason for it is simple; just follow the money. If the personal defense weapon could address fifty persons at once, how could tax collection be profitable? If organized crime doesn’t pay, then it won’t occur. The powers that be teach the legalistic approach in their compulsory schools because they know the approach loses. Freedom lovers should not accept their groundrules.

  14. Alan Gottlieb is a traitor to the 2A cause. All the proof you need is in Manchin-Toomey.

    Gun owners shouldn’t cavort with traitors in any form.

  15. No, Claire, they’re your words. At 9:19 this morning in this very commentary, you wrote, “I assure you that he did indeed despise Alan Gottlieb and considered SAF to be primarily a fundraising machine that used barrages of scary mail to pull money out of people.” You wrote in the same comment, “Many, many others (including some commentors on my blog) have testified to Aaron’s opinion of Gottlieb and all his works.”

  16. Folks, my take on Alan Gottlieb’s involvement in Manchin-Toomey is that he thought he could work inside the other side’s lines and turn things around. When that didn’t work, he dumped it and repudiated the bill. See this explanation:

  17. From what I ‘ve seen of the JPFO, it was more of the “Junk Yard Dog” tpye, like the GOA.

    Wonder whether GOA would condsider taking over the JPFO, as a subsidery organization.


  18. I hear ya, Jack. The first time they had it there, it was kind of a “mock the devil,” “behind enemy lines” thing. This time, after the Illinois victory in concealed carry, it may be more of a celebration…:-)

  19. It’s difficult to see how Manchin-Toomey could possibly be redeemed, considering that the required record-keeping would ultimately amount to de facto universal registration, with a paper record of every owner of every gun in America, and such records accessible to the Justice Dept. Even if Justice is prohibited – for now – from compiling such a registry, the records themselves must not be permitted to exist in the first place.

    And that’s only the worst of a number of legitimate objections to the universal background checks proposal.

  20. Thank you Mas:
    yours is a voice that many respect, and hopefully this can lay SOME animosity towards Alan Gottlieb. to rest. Is he perfect?–no. But very few are. Those supreme court VICTORIES should count for something, and to me they make up for most of the shortfalls some may see from the SAF.

  21. I guess my question is, if there IS a plan from people within JPFO to help the organization remain independent. WHY isn’t the board talking about it? All I see on the net is the SAF deal, why aren’t you bloggers and writers giving us more info, at the LEAST that there IS another deal out there. Or is like everything else involving guns. The media just won’t cover self-defense stories cause it doesn’t fit “their” narrative. Shouldn’t members be allowed to have a say? At least express their preference? Why is the SAF just allowed to take over? What about people that recently joined or made donations? Shouldn’t that money be given back since they made them to JPFO and may not like SAF? If the donors do, they will let SAF keep the money. Was any notice given to members when they were renewing or did they just think they were rejoining like normal? I renewed for 3 years not long ago. I wouldn’t have done that had I known. But if there is a plan to keep it independent why isn’t the board giving THAT priority consideration? Isn’t that part of the job of the board? To do what’s best for the organization they are SUPPOSE to represent? AND it’s members?

  22. I doubt there was much, if any in-fighting among those heroes at the Alamo. Perhaps our situation with gun rights is not as bad, but at times we’ve been surrounded, and without focused, tenacious effort, we could soon find ourselves surrounded again and even defeated. A right lost is a right that’s not likely to be restored.

  23. Mas – I second that motion. It would seem, sadly, that Sybil has hit upon the truth – this is no different than the “standard” media treatment. Again, I consider myself a true “gun guy” and want one thing only: for all the discord to be dealt with in an intelligent, NON-emotional manner, so we may move towards what SHOULD be our common goal. Not only CAN we do better, we MUST.

  24. It saddens me that this debate cannot be held without one side bashing the other. I support both organizations and will be attending my first GPRC this year. IMHO, the SAF and Alan Gottlieb have their role, they operate in a political environment where compromise is the ONLY way anything happens. They also operate in a legal environment where they fiercely defend (or prosecute) their side of a case. The SAF legal successes are documented and should be celebrated… that is why I contribute to them. Their political actions (i.e. Manchin-Toomey) are not to my liking because UBC absolutely cannot be compromised on. However, I talked with Mark Walters of Armed American Radio, who originally ranted mightily on Alan regarding the UBC compromise. Mark told me that after his rant, he had several hours of off-line conversations with Alan about the whys and wherefores behind his actions. While Mark did not go into detail about what he learned, he told me that there is a LOT that the public does not know or understand about the behind-the-scenes dealings on the MT bill. Mas, it sounds like you also are aware of this, and I fully intend to read the CCRKBA link you posted.

    Which brings me to the JPFO situation. My disappointment is that the Board does not appear to be considering any alternatives other than the SAF combination. My sadness is that we do have a diversity of voices on our side and that diversity is generally GOOD, until it becomes bashing. Each of the voices on our side has a role and serves a specific purpose. Aaron Zelman was UNcompromising (i.e. “junkyard dog”) because he could be – JPFO does not operate in a political environment so compromise does not need to be considered. From the Aaron and JPFO perspective… “What part of shall not be infringed do you not understand” was a simple and elegant operating premise.

    Alan Gottlieb and SAF have stated that JPFO will remain independent. I truly want to believe that; however, the evidence with the RKBA deal is not positive. Certainly a JPFO under SAF control will not be able to bash SAF or Alan Gottlieb, but I’m against bashing anyways. Michael Jordan once said (paraphrasing) that the success of the Bulls in the 90’s was due to each player knowing what their role was on the court and executing their role flawlessly. I believe that is what we need to understand in the RKBA community. JPFO’s fiercely independent and UNcompromising voice is necessary. And a loss or watering down of that voice is a loss for the entire community. As far as “united we stand divided we fall” – generally I agree with that. But, just because the different voices on our side promote the cause differently that should not constitute “division.” I’ll return to Michael Jordan… as long as each of the players knows their role and executes it flawlessly, we will have a winning team. NRA, SAF, GOA, JPFO, and others… our freedom, liberty, and American way of life depend on all of us working together to protect and defend our rights.

  25. Mas, you wrote: “No, Claire, they’re your words. At 9:19 this morning in this very commentary, you wrote, “I assure you that he did indeed despise Alan Gottlieb and considered SAF to be primarily a fundraising machine that used barrages of scary mail to pull money out of people.” You wrote in the same comment, “Many, many others (including some commentors on my blog) have testified to Aaron’s opinion of Gottlieb and all his works.”

    In the comment the comment you quote about fundraising, I’ve bolded the key terms. Nothing wrong with fundraising for a cause as anybody realizes. However, using a cause primarily as a cynical means to make money — different matter.

    And you’re correct, I guess I did say “all his works.” I got carried away and I was wrong. Aaron despised Gottlieb and his approach to both business and gun rights, but I don’t think anyone in the gun-rights movement could despise all Gottlieb’s works. SAF funding has indeed backed important court cases.

  26. Add me to the list of people who would like to see some transparency exercised here. Why were JPFO’s members not apprised or consulted about the move to sell JPFO out from under them. Doesn’t the membership deserve a say about this? I just contributed a thousand dollars to JPFO less than two weeks ago so I have some skin in this game – I contributed to JPFO, not SAF (or at least, such was my intention!)

    If the JPFO board has acted unilaterally towards the end of selling JPFO out from under the membership, then the membership has a right to be outraged at not being apprised of the situation.

    What is the deal with the Board, exactly? Why won’t they comment?

  27. Mas wrote: “Sybil, I for one would be interested in seeing the details of the alternative plan.”

    Sybil is welcome to chime in here, but I’ve been asked by others in the JPFO Rescue Group to address this.

    Thank you for your willingness to hear us, Mas.

    Most of what I know I’ve already written here:

    I’ll try now only to hit a few important points.


    * First of all, I want to say that if somebody else stepped in with an even stronger idea for keeping JPFO separate, I believe everybody on the rescue team would applaud. Our only concern is that JPFO remain alive and true to Aaron’s uncompromising vision.

    * Who we are: Details are only for the JPFO board, but generally I can tell you that the core group consists of two entrepreneurs who are very well-known and well-regarded in firearms-related industries and three long-time, well-known activists. Most of us have long history as JPFO supporters or associates. We are a mixture of Jews and Gentiles, with an even larger number of Jews helping the effort on the sidelines.

    * We have a commitment of funding to cover JPFO’s August shortfall (the proximate cause of the hand-off to SAF). We have varied experience in marketing, advertising, fundraising & other necessities.

    * We have addressed such questions as how to cut JPFO’s shockingly high overhead, how to fulfill orders, how to redesign JPFO’s outdated website, how to use social media to get more bang for JPFO’s buck and other important questions.

    * Nobody outside the JPFO board will see our full plan because obviously that’s a confidential matter. However, since JPFO leadership has stonewalled (and generally not even acknowledged) our communications, we can’t YET make a full, formal plan because they’ve refused access to financial reports, contracts, and other vital documents.

    * We’ve sent all three board members an outline of who we are and what we can do. We have asked them to postpone the SAF merger long enough to let us perform due diligence and present them with a formal plan.

    That was a week ago. We haven’t even received a courtesy response. We stand ready to answer any question the JPFO board will ask us.

    I’ll add a few more points in a following comment.

  28. Continuing…

    It’s vital to raise issues about the impending JPFO merger. Because completely aside from whatever anybody thinks of the merits of our Rescue Group, this deal has been handled appallingly and with complete disregard for JPFO’s legacy and the concerns of its members and donors.

    * JPFO workers learned about the merger plan only on August 14 (and some were apparently never told at all). JPFO managing director Doug Schuett told two of us that SAF specifically intended to keep the entire JPFO team (other than office staff).

    * On the evening of August 18, Doug told me that his earlier statement was untrue. SAF had never expressed any desire to keep the team together. It was left to me to convey that to everybody else. We do not know what SAF intends — only that the original statement was made up by the board member pushing most heavily for the deal.

    * The only consistent information we’ve been given is that the deal would be finalized before the end of this month. Two weeks from start to finish! Can anybody believe such haste is good business?

    * No one outside the JPFO board and SAF has been able to get any information about the terms of the deal. Not one word. All communications have simply been stonewalled.

    * Life members and corporate donors have contacted JPFO only to have their emails blocked, their concerns unanswered, and their messages dismissed as “vitriol” I, personally, have heard from two corporate sponsors that JPFO won’t even answer their messages. Three of JPFO’s corporate sponsors are actively supporting the effort to keep JPFO independent.

    * Whether one thinks the SAF takeover is a good thing or a bad one, the way this has been handled is disgraceful! High-handed, authoritarian, secretive, arrogant, completely lacking in both transparency and regard for JPFO’s members and donors.

    For this reason alone, the merger should be halted long enough to be exposed to very, very careful scrutiny.

  29. having a GRPC at Chicago? A city of high crime and no way to legal carry, in its self sends the wrong message. We supposed to stand by the policy of not supporting a business that states a no firearms policy. I will not attend because I would conceal carry a firearm to this conference, why not Rapid city or Sioux falls, South Dakota. This state has repository and recognizes all carry permits and has preemptive laws that are uniform unlike most states. Bring business to pro-rights states not ones that would prosecute conceal carriers from other states that do not recognize their home state permits.

  30. Aye, what’s the scoop Claire? It’s kinda difficult from my admittedly far-removed perspective to see the reason for all the secrecy.


  31. Thanks Mas!
    Here’s one thing which most people forget, I don’t have to agree with another person 100%, in order for me to accept the other person or his cause.

  32. the essential part of this story for me is JPFO’s financial foundering (and the irony thereof), not the SAF takeover. the conflict seems to be running the organization on principle versus as a business. apparently the two models can not easily co-exist.

    if the organization was truly “principled”, it should not have issue with doing what is rite: bring in volunteers to replace paid employees; cut-back on salaries, number of paid employees, office space; have fund raisers; oust the directors; change the bylaws; whatever it takes.

    i don’t understand how a paying member does not have much of a say in this and instead the fate is being decided by people holding meetings in secret private meetings.

  33. Mas,

    Thanks for this. I’d like to put my two cents in if I may.

    I’m a jew, a religious one at that, The Torah is pretty clear on of defense, as are the later commentaries, and most importantly common sense, I’m a gun owner in a non gun friendly state. When I was younger I would donate to JPFO and some other organizations, I felt their scrappy attitude was beneficial. I’m a little older now, and I have come to respect the more reserved strategies too. I respect any organization that will help in the legal fight and infighting is not going to help us, let each play his or her part.

    As an aside, as we all know, my family members were proud Germans and proud Jews, decorated World War One veterans and gun owners, their guns were registered, seized and they were then registered and seized and butchered. It must never happen, as I live and breath it shall never happen , that’s the point we all agree on, whether JPFO survives on its own, or is taken over, or something else happens doesn’t matter to me, the goal is what matters to me. Keep fighting the fight Mas, and everyone on here

  34. Claire, help me out with one thing. If the current, duly constituted JPFO board wears the bad guy hat for making a takeover deal without general membership input, how does your Rescue Group wear the good guy hat when it has not revealed its alternative takeover plan, either?

    Looking forward to hearing more details from you on your group’s proposal.

  35. We are private individuals. Our only aim at this moment is to get the JPFO board to agree to postpone the SAF merger long enough to 1) allow us to perform our due diligence and 2) hear a proposal from us.

    IF the board agrees to do that (which seems unlikely), then I am totally in favor of the board laying out BOTH proposals in detail to the JPFO membership and donors and asking which one they prefer.

    In the meantime, we are merely a handful of JPFO supporters facing a large, well-funded, and ruthless organization. Giving SAF all the information about our plans while we have nothing but guesses about theirs would merely empower them while putting us at an extreme disadvantage.

    If you disapprove of all secrecy, then why not focus on what SAF and the JPFO board are already, actively doing? Why not ask them to reveal the details of a deal that is, as we speak, about to be finalized with no outside input whatsover?

  36. I think Roger Daltry had a few words appropriate to the subject.

    “Meet the new boss, same as the old boss…”


    “Won’t get fooled again!”

  37. Claire, I really think it’s over the top to call SAF “ruthless.” And I still don’t see where one “pig in a poke” is righteous, and the other is bad…

  38. Claire, I should also have added just now, that the SAF board is known to the public, and your proposed slate is not at this time.

  39. I certainly qualify as a gun owner who is completely ignorant of the internal machinations and personalities of BOTH the SAF and the JPFO. That ignorance is not bliss, but it does make me impartial – and able to tell you it sure appears one side of this “discussion” keeps getting very personal, while the other side attempts to keep things under control. Those who are voicing such strong personal opinions should keep in mind the vast majority of readers only know what we read. It seems there is an awful lot of posturing and choosing sides going on here, which will never solve anything.

  40. Mas,
    it doesn’t matter that the SAF board is know to the public, what they have in mind for this takeover ISN’T known. What you are asking Claire and his group to do is the equivalent of telling a boxer that he has to wear a bag over his head when he enters the ring, and his opponent doesn’t, and that maybe he might be allowed to remove the bag at some future point, and maybe not.

    IANAL, however, it would seem that the board may be ignoring it’s fiduciary responsibility, judging from what little is publicly known at this time.

    I’m thinking it’s nearly time to break out the popcorn. This looks to be heading toward a real mess, the kind that only lawyers enjoy firsthand. And that is due to them leaving with most of the money.