- Former Marine says he will not register his guns even if a federal law is passed
- Marine's open letter goes viral online; draws fiery responses from CNN commenters
- Sen. Dianne Feinstein said after the Newtown school shooting that she plans to introduce a ban on assault weapons
- The bill aims to revisit a 1994 assault weapons ban that expired in 2004
It started off as a letter, but for former Marine Joshua Boston it was more than that. It was about his freedom.
The Afghanistan veteran wrote an open letter to U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-California, saying that he would not register his weapons with the government even if a ban on assault weapons is passed. The letter started on CNN iReport and gained mass attention online, obtaining a quarter-million views as of Friday evening and appearing on several other news outlets.
Boston said he was inspired to send in the iReport because he felt as though some gun owners were being unfairly targeted. He is angered by "the fact that I'm supposed to be punished for doing nothing more than owning a rifle that looks scary because its stock isn't made out of wood," he said.
Feinstein has said she plans to introduce a bill in January that would place a ban on assault weapons. Gun rights legislation gained renewed attention after an armed gunman killed 20 children and six adults in the Newtown school shooting.
The bill aims to revisit a 1994 ban that expired in 2004. The prohibition did not eliminate assault weapons, but restricted their features, limiting magazine capacity to 10 rounds and regulating pistol grips, bayonet attachments and flash suppressors.
Boston said he served in Afghanistan twice and Iraq twice between 2004 and 2011. Although no longer serving in the military, the 26-year-old said he still owns guns and believes the government does not need to know what guns he owns; he believes weapons registration would lead to confiscation.
Many of the people who posted the more than 1,400 passionate comments about the letter said they agreed with Boston. Both pro- and anti-gun supporters weighed in on the idea of registering weapons in the United States and the use of assault weapons.
"I, like you am a former Marine corporal and I support you 110%," wrote CNN iReport user TMuttDaddy. "It's nobody's business how many guns I own. I also support restoring the gun ownership right for felons. Provided the crime was nonviolent and not repeat offenders. I do think we need to address how firearms are stored and secured. We need to require owners to secure their weapons in such a way that makes them difficult to steal. I suggest gun safes and trigger locks. We need to do all we can to keep guns off the street."
Str8shot wrote, "This is absolutely the best response to the attack on civilian gun ownership that I've seen in some time." "I'd stand, proudly, with this man in preserving our rights. He clearly understood his pledge to protect the Constitution from all enemies, foreign and domestic and sounds like he'll do it. I'm right there with him!"
Despite the number of mass shootings in the United States in 2012, Boston said he believes the laws already set in place for gun control are plenty. He adds that more laws will simply remove a means of defense for people.
"I own the guns I own because I acknowledge mankind's shortcomings instead of pretending like they don't exist," Boston wrote. "There are evil men in this world and there just may be a time when I need to do the unthinkable to protect me or my family."
But many commenters disagreed with Boston's take.
"I respect gun usage to a point when they are use (sic) with respect and with common sense," wrote iReporter RindaLynn.
"Guns do not save people. People choosing not to use guns save people," RindaLynn added.
YankCT highlighted the value of Boston's military contributions even while disagreeing with his views.
"Ms. Feinstein is an elected official who was selected by voters to represent their interests in a governing body," YankCT wrote. "She has the authority and responsibility to do just that until the people whom she represents decide otherwise through their votes. This gentleman believes that he is above the law. This is untrue; in fact, my guess is that he swore to defend the country and respect its laws when he entered the Marines."
At points in his letter, Boston addresses the senator directly:
"I am not your subject," he writes. "I am the man who keeps you free. I am not your servant. I am the person whom you serve. I am not your peasant."
In response to Boston's letter, Feinstein released this statement:
"Senator Feinstein respects Cpl. Boston's service. She has heard from thousands of people -- including many gun owners -- who support her plan to stop the sale, transfer, importation and manufacturing of assault weapons and large capacity magazines, strips and drums that hold more than 10 rounds. As Senator Feinstein has said, the legislation will be carefully focused to protect the rights of existing gun owners by exempting hundreds of weapons used for hunting and sporting purposes."
A reader called freddieman said he was inspired to send his own senators a message. He said he is a veteran and comes from a military family.
"I will not lose my rights because those who do not follow the laws and freedoms of this land choose not to follow," he said.
Have you reached out to your representative over issues of gun control? Should people register their weapons with the government? Let us know what you think in the comments below.