BLACKFOOT– The news has been rife with judgements on the Second Amendment and how people want to get rid of gun rights. There has been a lot of fear: whether of the unknown or of guns in general. This is not a good way to live one's life. Shane Johnson is a firearms instructor in Bingham County and has been teaching for over a year. He has been a part of law enforcement and has been carrying ever since he was 21 years old. The perspective Johnson provides helps understand a little of the fear mongering among the media.
"Honestly, people need more education. If someone is carrying but doesn't have the practice, they go back to what they know and freeze. If one practices, and continues to practice, it becomes second nature and the fear and nervousness subsides when in a shooting situation," says Johnson. There are numerous classes that one can take all across Idaho. LegalHeat has scheduled classes at Sportsman's Warehouse, and there are also other options offered through different instructors. Shane Johnson does a wide range of trainings when it comes to guns and safety. His main focus is on the Enhanced Carry Permit, which provides reciprocity throughout 35 states across the country. It takes a lot of training to be allowed to teach enhanced carry classes. Johnson trained with the NRA classes, which teach instructors. He went through several training classes and had to teach while being observed before having a chance to teach on his own. "I took concealed carry in the home and concealed carry outside the home. It was intense. It reinforces the training and even though I have been in law enforcement, it is different when you are doing it personally," Johnson said.
There are companies around the United States that have created extensive training programs for people who want to go through active shooter scenarios and learn to react as such. One company is called Simunition which has created two non-lethal training aids for law enforcement, military, and civilian personnel. Their mission has been to create training which is realistic to condition responses to fear in active situations, which ultimately will save lives.
Johnson recommends taking as many classes as possible because of the way it resonates with the individual learners. One can find the "golden nugget" of information from one instructor that one might not have gotten from another instructor. By training over and over again, one can gain extensive skills. Just like one would not want to go to a doctor who has only had minimal training, one would not want to let training go lax on a weapon that has the potential to kill.
When asked about the shootings that recently occurred, Johnson said this, "I feel bad for all those who were involved and perished. We unfortunately live in a society where less responsibility is placed on the person, and instead placed on the inanimate object. I do not train people to kill, no competent instructor teaches people to kill. I teach people to stop the threat and preserve life. My heart goes out to those who have experienced these tragedies."
It is best for all to have training with weapons. Just like when one is learning to drive a car. The 14-year-old is not given the car and then sent out to the streets. They learn in the classroom, they learn to get over their anxiousness, and they experienced what it was like to actually drive. "It is just like with firearms. It is a safe tool when used with the proper intent. If we could have more training, people would have the time to think before they act," Johnson says.
Johnson finds teaching rewarding. "I get to see the light turn on. In the beginning they are slow and timid, then they gain the confidence. I love seeing people react and go 'WOW, I can do that!' Mainly they improve their skills and abilities while in my class." When asked whether he has had difficulties, "There are always learning curves when it comes to firearms. Some people don't have the skills or it is their very first time. They want to be certified right off the bat. This ego tends to get a lot of people in trouble. The more skills that people gain they get an understanding of the mechanism. It takes hours and hours of training, experience, and exposure. An unconscious incompetence, is when someone doesn't know what they need to know. Then there is a conscious incompetence, were someone knows they don't have the skills and is trying to better themselves. Finally they become consciously competent, where they have the skills and are competent to use them." The threat of red flag laws and gun confiscation is something that is coming from a general misunderstanding of the Second Amendment. When talking to other instructors, there is a general consensus: training is one of the most important things. The Second Amendment is something that was and is used to regulate the security of a free state. "We do not in any way want to inhibit persons from carrying a firearm. However, people need to understand that they are responsible for the actions and reactions. Do not create a worse situation. People who carry and have a vigilante thought process, tend to be more pushy and they feel they are there to 'enforce the law,' but never think about the consequences. It is better to have the training and think before acting by making sure they are doing what helps in the moment, and be sure they are understanding the firearm is a safe tool when used with the proper intent" Johnson says. Overall, firearms are a hot-button topic and one should know more about them, and train with them, before adding fuel to the fire.