Jeff Kelman grew up in an anti-gun family and it wasn’t until he was a teenager before he realized that it is actually legal for civilians to own guns in the United States. As a young adult Jeff purchased his first firearm and began understanding the responsibility of gun ownership, and became interested in researching the history of laws restricting owning guns around the world, and how those laws intersect with the Holocaust and other genocides.
Jeff was raised in anti-gun Massachusetts to a politically left leaning household. Left to the point where he says that he was not aware of it being legal for civilians to own guns until his teenage years… In his 20’s, Jeff became more interested in the gun issue, especially after purchasing his first firearm and understanding more about the responsibility of gun ownership, and what that entailed.
In 2017, after the Parkland shooting in Florida, the rhetoric was raised to an entirely new level. Jeff took it upon himself to research more aspects of the gun debate beyond just crime and household deaths, which is all that he read and heard being debated in the mainstream media. One component of the gun debate that Jeff felt was understudied or under researched was the so called “…Holocaust-would-not-have-happened-if-the-Jews-had-guns…” argument. Jeff wanted to see if that argument actually held water, and if there were other genocides, or other arguments in the big-picture sense that were being left to collect dust.
Jeff is currently working on forming, and then writing, his Master’s Thesis at Gratz College. The subject of his thesis will likely cover the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising of those events.
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We are doing a series called Ameri-CAN. Talking about the CAN-DO spirit that is part of our American DNA. So much about our lives has been turned upside down by this Corona Virus / Covid-19, and we have been hearing a lot about what we CAN’T do and where we CAN’T go, but our guests during this series are going to talk to us about their area of expertise and all of the ways we still CAN learn and grow, train, connect, and expand our freedoms in ways we maybe haven’t thought about before.
Our guest today is Jeff Kelman. Jeff grew up in an anti-gun family and it wasn’t until he was a teenager before he realized that it is actually legal for civilians to own guns in the United States. As a young adult Jeff purchased his first firearm and began understanding the responsibility of gun ownership, and became interested in researching the history of laws restricting owning guns around the world, and how those laws intersect with the Holocaust and other genocides.
1) How do the laws in pre-Nazi Germany relate to the laws that have been implemented here in the United States? (The Nazi “Weapons Law” of 1938 that U.S. Senator Thomas J. Dodd used as a partial template for the Gun Control Act of 1968.)
2) The Anti-Rights / Anti-Gun crowd are always fond of using phrases like “Common Sense Gun Laws” to make them sound reasonable and warm and fuzzy. Among the types of laws they want to implement are registration and licensing. Historically speaking, how have these kinds of measures worked out for the citizens who complied?
3) Over the past few weeks, we have been watching Mayors across the nation urging their citizens to “snitch” on each other for things as simple as being outside enjoying some fresh air. In Los Angeles the Mayor went so far as to dangle a carrot by saying, quote, “Snitches get rewards”. As soon as I heard that, my mind went to the Red Flag Gun Laws that are being pushed for by politicians all over the nation, and that can result in anonymous “tips” leading to a citizen’s door being kicked in and their guns being forcefully confiscated. Not due to any crime that person committed, but simply because a snitch doesn’t feel comfortable that the other person owns something they don’t like. How does all of this relate to what you have seen in World History?
4) We are currently watching American citizens give up important and Constitutionally protected freedoms and liberty because we are navigating something we have never seen before, this worldwide pandemic. We could call it the “psychology of the unknown” impacting how compliant or defiant humans are in any given circumstance. Thinking back to the time before the Holocaust, we often want to use our hind site and say – if the Jewish people had had firearms they would have fought back and prevented the atrocities. I have to believe that at some point they would have, once the reality of what was happening really set in. But, what has your research shown you about that assertion?
5) What has your research shown you about why, traditionally speaking, Jewish Americans tend to be against gun ownership? That seems counter-intuitive, considering the number of times Jews have been persecuted across time and across the globe.
6) You are still in the process of gathering research for your Master’s Thesis, but is there an overarching message that you could come to about the importance of firearms ownership in being and remaining a free and sovereign individual who is a citizen of a free and sovereign nation? Do guns matter?
7) I (Cheryl Todd) am part of a Pro-Rights / Pro-Gun Women’s group called The DC Project. We assert that the key to preserving liberty and safety is Education Not Legislation. Is there anything specific in your research that would support this assertion?