Idaho has some of the loosest gun laws in the country. For some here, though, just about any restriction is unacceptable. On Saturday hundreds of gun activists marched to the State Capitol.
The marchers walked silently from Fort Boise Park to the State Capitol, some waving American flags. Many of the protesters openly carried semi-automatic rifles, which have re-ignited a national debate about firearms in the wake of multiple mass shootings, such as one at a Florida school that left 17 people dead.
Erich Pratt, executive director of Gun Owners of America, a national gun rights group that has positioned itself to the right of the NRA when it comes to gun control.
At the podium, he announced, “They want to ban all semi-automatic firearms, this is the battle that we’re in and if you haven’t noticed, the anti-gun left wants your guns. They want your guns, they want to take them away and the think that you and me are the problem."
Many in the crowd wore body armor and camouflage uniforms stocked with ammunition clips. It was a scene evocative of militia movements in the Northern Rocky Mountains.
Ammon Bundy, who led an armed takeover of Oregon’s Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in 2016, was one of the featured speakers. He talked about the Second Amendment, saying it “describes that it is necessary to have arms and to unite as individuals, even militias, with those arms in order to secure freedom.”
Brittany Eckroth, of Caldwell, came to the rally with her AR-15 slung around her shoulder. She said she carries to defend her daughter. “We deserve the right to be able to protect ourselves," she said, "and to protect our families and to ensure that safety for her future.”
A small group of high school students came to counter protest and advocate for stricter gun control.
Follow Heath Druzin on Twitter @HDruzin for more local news.
Copyright 2018 Boise State Public Radio