Some of you have noticed the new guy posting at The Truth About Guns named John Boch. Yep, that’s me. I wanted to take an opportunity to introduce myself to the TTAG family.
My journey into the gun rights world began with Bill Clinton signing gun control into law in 1994, even though at the time I didn’t own any of the guns affected. I joined the NRA.
A year later, I found a group of men and women working to make a difference at the local level and they became my family. That group of people has grown into today’s Guns Save Life, an aggressive grassroots gun rights group with thousands of members spread across 40 states. Today, I’m proud to work as the Executive Director of GSL.
We’re famous to a lot of people for our Burma Shave-style highway sign program, seen by 600,000 people each day on Interstates and highways across Illinois. Like this:
AND I’M ON HOLD
SURE WISH I HAD
THAT GUN I SOLD
The signs plant little brush-fires of freedom in the minds of passersby to subtly help influence their thinking and bring them around to our side. Our monthly journal, GunNews Magazine has a circulation averaging about 20,000 in the past couple of years. And then there are our six successful, upbeat monthly grassroots meetings across Illinois from Charleston to Chicago.
We work closely with the National Rifle Association’s Institute for Legislative Action. We work with the Illinois State Rifle Association to facilitate shared goals. We’re also eager to build bridges with other gun rights groups, and other like-minded organizations like Live Free USA – the nation’s oldest and most respected survival organization. Ditto for other pro-family and pro-gun groups.
The People of The Gun outside of Illinois may remember us as the group who took a whole bunch of rusted, broken down junk up to Chicago in 2012 and sold them to the do-gooders there for $6240 that we used to help send kids to the nation’s longest-running NRA Youth Shooting Camp. We gained international publicity with that. Oh yeah, we bought some guns with that money that were given away to the kids at camp.
TTAG has certainly been a part of that growth of GSL, detailing some of our successes and helping to fill my quest for the latest news and information from The World of the Gun. And today I’m lucky enough to pay it forward helping to inform and influence others as Robert, Dan, Nick and others have done for me.
In my spare time, I’ve been a firearm trainer with GSL Defense Training, teaching thousands over the past almost twenty years. While GSL Defense Training isn’t part of Guns Save Life, we bring the same excellence to firearms training that GSL brings to gun rights advocacy.
I’ve studied under a who’s who of nationally-known and respected trainers and regional schools, like most of our other instructors. I hold certifications from three national firearm training organizations not counting Appleseed as I’m only an “instructor in training” with them. I’m also a survival instructor with Live Free USA.
GSL has two dozen instructors including everything from high school grads to PhDs on our team. Farmers, teachers, IT nerds, engineers, former FBI, law enforcement, lawyers, a physician, EMTs and a nurse, pilots, and a college professor or two – we all share the love of teaching others skills that may save their lives as they’ve done for others before them.
We teach because there’s nothing more satisfying than former students crediting us and our training for helping them successfully survive a deadly force encounter. These include a home invasion, hot burglaries, domestic violence incidents, and an attempted armed robbery with a knife to date.
Life’s more than about guns, even though I joke I’m married to guns. My lovely wife Wendy works in HR at a major Illinois university. I’ve got a pet ferret named Nipsey – aka Nippers. Wendy tolerates him. She would probably like him better if he got a job and quit hiding things under the dresser.
My wife and I spend a lot of time helping others as well. One of our pet projects is the HOOAH Deer Hunt For Heroes – a local, 100% volunteer program that helps wounded servicemen heal outside of a hospital. Some of these guys are dealing with life-changing physical injuries (those IEDs really tear men up) while others are fighting mental battles. HOOAH helps them forget about their problems and at the same time overcome their disabilities and worries for a time during outdoors – at no cost whatsoever to the soldiers.
I’ve personally seen guys who were suicidal turn their lives around and thrive. When they credit the support of their new-found HOOAH “family”, it moves you. And that’s where my wife comes in, planning and executing their northern golf outing and fundraising dinner. I help with publicity and promotions. We all have a role as the group has grown, sort of like how GSL has grown.
Four years ago HOOAH took four soldiers. Last year, they helped about 100 at a dozen-plus events. The founders keep saying they’re going to hold the line, but the friendships formed, lives changed for the better and suicides avoided are all reasons they don’t say no when volunteers materialize to make new events come off successfully.
So that’s who I am. I look forward to serving all of you as part of the TTAG staff.
All the best,