Ryan Busse, the one-time Kimber executive who left the firearms industry to work as an advisor to Joe Biden’s 2020 campaign before joining the gun control group Giffords as a senior advisor, is now gunning for a new job: governor of Montana. And while Busse has spent the past few years bashing gun makers and serving as an expert witness in defense of a variety of gun control laws, the Democrat is now re-inventing himself once again, downplaying and even reversing his previous positions on things like banning so-called assault weapons.
During a 25-year career in the firearms industry, Busse said, he directed the sale of almost 3 million guns from the manufacturer Kimber America. But he became disaffected as the increasingly politicized industry began aggressively marketing military-style assault rifles such as those used in numerous mass shootings.
Since leaving the industry, Busse has served as a policy adviser for Biden’s 2020 campaign and written a book and articles highly critical of the National Rifle Association and gun manufacturers.
His remonstrations against America’s gun culture could become a flashpoint in the campaign given the strong support for gun rights in Montana politics. Busse, who favors background checks before purchases but opposes bans on assault rifles, predicted Republicans will portray him as anti-gun.
“I know there’s a vast, frustrated majority out there that are decent, responsible gun owners, and those are the people I represent,” he said.
Sure thing, Ryan. There’s just one problem. While Busse claims to oppose bans on modern sporting rifles, he’s been paid very well for his work as an expert witness for cities and states defending their own prohibitions on “assault weapons”.
— Rob Romano (@2Aupdates) October 14, 2022
NAGR v. Highland Park (N.D. IL): Ryan Busse files yet another declaration in support of gun control, this time Highland Park's "assault weapon" and magazine bans. Looks like he got a raise too; he was paid $200/hr (with $350/hr for travel or testimony). https://t.co/ZJCQ7M7zL5 pic.twitter.com/mItKKoXoz7
— Rob Romano (@2Aupdates) January 20, 2023
NAGR v. Campbell (D. MA): Ryan Busse files another declaration in a lawsuit challenging gun control, this time to help Massachusetts defend its "assault weapon" and magazine bans. It doesn't say how much he was paid, though. https://t.co/NfBMA1h4v2 pic.twitter.com/baShMO5pbl
— Rob Romano (@2Aupdates) February 1, 2023
Barnett v. Raoul (S.D. IL): Ryan Busse files yet another declaration in support of gun control, this time for Illinois' "assault weapon" and magazine bans. His rate: $200/hr with $350/hr for any travel or testimony. https://t.co/vL454jcHFp pic.twitter.com/8ZM0d223eI
— Rob Romano (@2Aupdates) March 2, 2023
That’s not even the full list that the Firearms Policy Coalition’s indispensable Rob Romano has documented, but you get the idea.
Busse released a short video to introduce him to Montana voters, but there’s nary a shot of him in a courtroom or standing proudly beside Gabby “No More Guns” Giffords. In fact, Busse never mentions his work for the gun control lobby at all. Instead, the video starts with Busse describing himself as a hunter, fisherman, and someone who’s sold “almost three million guns”. Busse does mention his break with the firearms industry in the video, claiming he “spoke out about the dangerous radicalization in the firearms industry”, but never bothers to mention his defense of “assault weapon” bans from California to Massachusetts.
Instead, as we’ve seen from a variety of other politicians who trot out the “I support the Second Amendment, but…” argument, Busse tries to display his 2A bona fides by shooting clay targets, each emblazoned with a bumper sticker-slogan attack on a variety of Gov. Greg Gianforte’s policy positions. Busse says the last target, however, reads that “they’re gonna lie and say we can’t shoot.”
Hi there, I’m Ryan Busse, and I’m running to be the next Governor of Montana. I’m a father, a husband, a hunter, and a proud Montanan who wants our great state to be a place where all of our freedoms are protected. Check out this video to learn more about me and why I’m running pic.twitter.com/LzprugBFl1
— Ryan Busse (@ryandbusse) September 14, 2023
I don’t give a damn if Busse’s good enough at busting clay targets to compete in the next Olympics. The question isn’t whether or not Busse’s a good shot. It’s why is he not shooting straight with Montanans? He claims to oppose bans on so-called assault weapons, but he’s provided paid testimony in defense of those very bans in multiple cases over the past few years. I get why Busse wouldn’t want to brag about that when introducing himself to voters in Montana, but re-inventing himself as a pro-gun moderate while brushing aside his affiliation with the gun control lobby isn’t likely to go over well when those voters learn about his real record and positions on our right to keep and bear arms.