Anti-gun activist claims gun control isn't an issue in his campaign for governor

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At a time when everything is stupid and things are only getting worse, I guess I should thank Ryan Busse for providing me with a genuine belly laugh. The longtime gun salesman-turned-anti-gun activist, who recently announced his bid to become the Democratic candidate for governor in Montana next year, claims in a new interview that he’s not running on a gun control platform or proposing any new restrictions on the right to keep and bear arms.


The entire reason anyone outside of his immediate circle of friends and family would be aware of Busse is because he’s incessantly retold his narrative about becoming disgusted with the state of the firearms industry and leaving Kimber in high dudgeon over the “radicalization” of gun makers (though it took him nearly 20 years to do so), becoming an advisor to the Biden campaign in 2020 not long after walking out the door. After the 2020 election cycle was over Busse signed on with Giffords, and over the past few years has served as a high-paid expert witnesses for anti-gun states like California and Illinois, become the author of a memoir that once again rehashes his beefs with the gun industry, and has served as one of the go-to spokespeople for the gun control movement when they need to trot out a gun owner to claim that their policy proposals are eminently reasonable and chock-full of common sense.

But if the supposedly moderate proposals from groups like Giffords really are as popular with American voters as Busse has claimed they are, then why is he running from his gun control stances instead of running on them?

EBS: So from what I understand some of those key issues that you’re looking to address as governor are housing, gun control, public school funding and environmental conservation. Is that correct?

RB: Yes. So I’m not really unconcerned about radicalization in and around guns, but I’m not proposing or running on any gun control issues.

I’m very worried about housing affordability. I think that tax– the way that the legislature took a $2.8 billion surplus and instantly spent it by basically giving away tax breaks to big corporations and wealthy people and then shifting the tax burden and settling every single homeowner in the state of Montana with a great big tax increase–I think that’s just sort of part and parcel about how disdainful this bunch is about working Montanans and average Montanans.

EBS: Absolutely. So we touched briefly upon gun control. You said that you’re not running on any specific gun control plans or policies at the moment. 

RB: That’s correct. I’m worried about radicalization. I’ve worked in the firearms industry for 25 years and I think the irresponsibility we’ve seen in and around the [Second Amendment] is very dangerous. I think it’s largely a social norm thing and I think that responsible gun owners like me should lead by example and stand up and decry some of the irresponsible acts we’ve seen. But I’m not in favor, nor am I proposing any kind of massive legislation. I’m basically calling on responsible gun owners to help us tamp down the irresponsible actions that we’ve seen.

EBS: What does the future of gun control for you in Montana look like?

RB: I don’t want it to be restrictive. And I think that means that if we’re going to have a powerful  right like the 2nd Amendment, which I appreciate and which I engage in. I was hunting a couple days ago, and hope to be hunting again soon. I own lots of guns and believe in defending myself. But we’re going to lose all of our rights eventually if we let democracy come apart, because radicalized people abuse [rights].

It’s incumbent on responsible gun owners to stand up and make sure that doesn’t happen. We’re the ones that care about maintaining our rights. And, frankly, that’s the way to save our 2nd Amendment gun rights– it’s to be the responsible ones that protect them.


Oh, come on. Does Busse think Montana voters are too stupid to use a Google search? He may claim now that there’s no need for new gun control laws, only an increase in personal responsibility, but it’s easy to find plenty of examples of him bemoaning the supposed lack of anti-gun legislation, expressing support for gun control laws, and even criticizing the Bruen decision.

Here’s Busse on Bruenspeaking to ProPublica earlier this year:

I think we might be on the precipice of things getting much worse. I think this Bruen decision, the Supreme Court ruling, quite possibly will unleash so many lawsuits against so many counted-upon regulations that citizens may wake up to the equivalent of, like, no stop signs in their town anymore, except for it’ll be on gun regulation. [The Bruen decision has been called one of the court’s most significant rulings on guns in decades. It struck down New York’s concealed carry law as unconstitutional, saying it conflicted with the Second Amendment.]

The self-professed gun owner who supposedly believes in defending himself was hot and bothered by “shall issue” concealed carry becoming the bare minimum standard and the disappearance of many “gun-free zones.” In that same interview, Busse went on to describe a number of gun control policies that he believes aren’t infringements on our right to keep and bear arms.

I am a gun owner. I hunt and shoot with my boys. I want to continue doing that. I believe and I think that I have a right to do those things. On the other hand, I do not believe that right can exist without a commensurate amount of responsibility. And that responsibility either has to be voluntary or it has to be legislated.

I don’t think universal background checks are an infringement. I just don’t buy that. I think it’s part of the responsibility of exercising this right. I don’t think strengthened red flag laws are in any way an infringement. I think that’s what we must do as responsible citizens. I don’t think that controlling irresponsible marketing is an infringement on our Second Amendment rights. In fact, I think it’s our responsibility to do it. I think there’s a small thread of truth in the position you portray, but democracies function in a sort of carefully balanced gray area. And I think our balance in the country right now is way, way off.


Here’s the thing: if Busse believes that “radicals” have taken over the Second Amendment movement and the firearms industry, then why would he hinge his hopes on those folks suddenly deciding to adopt his own point of view on their own? As he himself said, that “responsibility” either has to be voluntary or legislated, and the gun control lobby he’s a part of is far more interested in imposing new laws on legal gun owners than fostering a culture of responsible gun ownership. Hell, he worked for Gabby “No More Guns” Giffords for years, and never once objected (at least publicly) to any of the anti-gun legislative proposals her organization demands.

Do I believe Busse when he says that his campaign won’t feature any calls for “massive legislation”? I do, but not because I think Busse actually disagrees with those bills. I just think he’s smart enough to know that he doesn’t have a snowball’s chance in hell of getting elected governor of Montana while being an out-and-proud infringer on the right to keep and bear arms. But Busse didn’t say he wouldn’t take any sort of executive actions on guns or use the governor’s mansion as a bully pulpit for gun control, and my guess is that anti-gun outfits like Giffords and Everytown will still be more than happy to contribute to his campaign (either directly or through PAC spending) despite his alleged disapproval of new gun control laws.

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