An Open Letter to Jay Simkin and Alan Rice
by L. Neil Smith
Special to TLE
I have a message
here from my friend and co-author Aaron Zelman. He
tells me (and thousands of others concerned with the same issues we
are) that you gentlemen are the source of some trouble to him --
trouble that threatens our organization,
Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership, and therefore the
future security of the Second Amendment.
What it comes down to, as I understand it, is that each of you wrote
books with Aaron, refused any kind of payment for them, and have now
changed your minds and filed a lawsuit to get what you turned down to
begin with. One of Aaron's correspondents says you told him that you
intend to use the court system to destroy JPFO and then take it over.
I haven't known Aaron very long -- just about long enough to write
and publish a novel
with him (his first, my twentieth). I've been in
contact with him almost daily for something like a year. I've never
known or worked with any individual more kindly, more gentlemanly, or
more scrupulously honest. I've never known anyone more energetically
and consistently dedicated to the cause of individual liberty -- and
believe me, gentlemen, after nearly forty years in politics, I know a
great many people dedicated to that cause and my standards are very
I've had a lot of political experience with the Republican Party, the
Libertarian Party, and the National Rifle Association, and I know
that the only direction JPFO could go, taken out of Aaron's capable
and highly principled hands, is toward the same low, abject, crawling
compromise that has destroyed any significance those three groups
might claim in the bitter struggle for individual liberty and a free
Understand, too, gentlemen, that even if you were to take over JPFO,
its entire membership would immediately resign -- leaving you with
nothing but a hollow, thoroughly discredited shell -- and regroup
within a week around Aaron and whatever new group he chose to create.
I, myself, would be both proud and happy to organize and lead such an
Aaron is a great man. When the history of this unfortunate period is
written, he will stand out as one of its most courageous heroes.
Given current events and the resulting legislative ferment, it seems
to me that what you're doing is the moral equivalent of sneaking up
on Thomas Jefferson -- just when he was in the middle of writing the
Declaration of Independence -- and shooting him in the back of the
Aaron has generously offered to turn your intellectual property back
over to you -- even though he had some hand in bringing it into
existence -- and you have churlishly refused him. Drop this suit now.
And if you are one tenth the gentleman Aaron is, apologize publicly
for having distracted him. Otherwise, win or lose, your place in
history will be far from heroic, and rather more like that of
Very seriously yours,
L. Neil Smith, author The Probability Broach, Henry Martyn,
Bretta Martyn, Pallas, The Mitzvah (with Aaron Zelman),
The American Zone (forthcoming), et al.
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