Guest Opinions

I’m a combat veteran and Idaho gun owner. I want a national ban on assault rifles.

For student organizers, Wednesday's walkout was empowering

Students from Boise High walked from their campus to the Capitol steps to ask legislators for gun reform. Boise High students were joined by other high school students from the Treasure Valley.
Up Next
Students from Boise High walked from their campus to the Capitol steps to ask legislators for gun reform. Boise High students were joined by other high school students from the Treasure Valley.

I am a lifelong Idahoan.

I am a retired soldier with nearly 30 years in the profession of arms, including five combat tours in Iraq and Afghanistan.

And I believe we need a national ban on assault rifles.

I am a gun owner. I got my first rifle when I was 12 years old as a present from my parents when I was living in the little town of Winchester, where I would wander the woods behind my house hunting deer. I still have that 30-30 Winchester, along with quite a few other guns. I still wander in the woods behind my home to go hunting.

I believe in being prepared to defend my family and my neighbors. I have an enhanced concealed-carry permit from our state. I went through the training to get it when I left the Army, because I know ongoing training is imperative for responsible gun ownership.

I believe our Second Amendment is still an essential part of our constitutional fabric, weaved with compromise, to make our nation strong.

And I believe we need sensible gun laws, including comprehensive background checks no matter where a gun is purchased, that ensure guns do not get in the wrong hands.

I was a member of the NRA. It is the only organization that promotes extensive training and certification for gun owners, which frankly needs to change because the NRA has lost its way. It’s not my father’s NRA. It has turned its back on the views of responsible gun owners and kowtows to the cash cow of the gun industry. Not once did the NRA ask my opinion as a member on any issue, although they were always quick to tell me how I should think and how I should vote.

But I am an independent-minded Idahoan, and not the NRA or anybody else is going to buy my vote. I quit.

I am now a member and supporter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, because “thoughts and prayers are not enough to honor the victims of gun violence.” I know my mother approves.

I am not particularly liberal or conservative. My views are my own.

I am frustrated that over the past few years our state gun laws that served us well for over a century — making Idaho one of the lowest gun-violence states in the nation — continue to slip away into irrelevance and worse. Doing away with essential training, background checks and local oversight for concealed carry permits is irresponsible and, in my humble opinion, downright foolish. More Idahoans will likely die from this legislative negligence. Stop it already.

I am a proud citizen of this state and I always have been, no matter what part of the world my service to our nation has taken me. When I was done serving in uniform, I came home again.

I want gun laws that make sense and save lives.

I am still an Idahoan. And I’m not going anywhere.

Colonel (Ret.) Barry Johnson lives in Potlatch.

Related stories from Idaho Statesman

  Comments