I’ve been off the grid for the past couple of days. I was shocked to hear from friends this morning that Joel Rosenberg has died.
Joel was accomplished at many things; a science fiction writer with dozens of book credits, he was best known to civil liberties advocates in Minnesota as the beating heart and the rapier wit of the Self Defense movement. That’s where I met Joel, of course, close to 20 years ago, one of the small group of activists with a vision that led to the most successful bit of pre-Tea-Party grassroots politics in Minnesota history, the passage of the Minnesota Personal Protection Act. A long-time DFLer, Joel had a mission. From his obit at the Gun Owners Civil Rights Alliance:
Rosenberg became interested in guns and self defense more that 20 years ago, after receiving a series of anonymous death threats from a professed neo-Nazi. He applied for and received an unlimited permit to carry a pistol from the Minneapolis Police, a rarity at the time, when citizens had to convince an official of a need for personal protection before being allowed to carry a gun for self defense.
Not content with securing the then-privilege for himself, Rosenberg worked with GOCRA pass the Minnesota Citizens Personal Protection Act of 2003, and was instrumental in its re-passage in 2005 after it was suspended by a court challenge. His online forum, active from 2005 to 2010, was an electronic gathering place for activists, hobbyists, students and others interested in guns in Minnesota.
He was my carry permit instructor; he was also Ed Morrissey’s, and Ed eulogizes him for his response in a moment of need:
When a friend or even an acquaintance was in trouble, he’d drop everything he could to help. I know this personally, and I’ll tell a story here that I’ve refrained from sharing for some time. I have long supported individual rights under the Second Amendment, but had rarely owned or shot a firearm until last summer. I was made aware of a threat against my life by law enforcement that they considered credible (I won’t get more specific than that; the suspect is now serving a prison sentence), and it was made clear to me that I needed to step up my personal security.
The first person I thought to call was Joel. He had made many appearances on our NARN shows over the years, so I knew him a little, but Joel responded like I was a long-lost brother. He immediately trained and certified me for a carry permit, and then helped me select the best pistol for the job. He offered me continuing support while agreeing to keep the matter very, very private. As it turned out, thankfully, the need for the pistol has diminished, but I feel much more secure thanks in large part to Joel. My family and I are safer because of him.
Joel was a mainstay of the local libertarian alt-media; he and his wife Felicia Herman had attended, as I recall, every single MOB party; his various blogs and forums were the electronic gathering halls for the local human rights movement. He was, of course, a mainstay of this blog’s comment section.
Joel died of complications from a heart attack. He leaves behind his two daughters, as well as Felicia; today would have been their 32nd wedding anniversary.
Joel’s long battle with Minneapolis’ soulless autocracy had already exhausted the family and, I can’t help but think, Joel himself. If you can help out, his site is accepting donations.