Can a Gun Control Activist Get Elected Governor of Montana?

Townhall Media

My prediction? Not a chance, though we'll have to wait until November to see whether or not I'm right. Ryan Busse, the former Kimber executive-turned-gun control advocate, won the Democratic gubernatorial primary in Montana on Tuesday evening, setting up a general election fight with incumbent Gov. Greg Gianforte. 


Oddly, even outfits like Fox News are ignoring Busse's ties to the gun control lobby while repeating his campaign talking points about "his pro-Second Amendment viewpoint", but Montana voters are going to get plenty of reminders of Busse's past statements between now and Election Day. Take this 2023 appearance on MSNBC, for instance, where Busse joined Joy Reid to bash gun ownership and the right to keep and bear arms. 

During this MSNBC appearance Busse came right out of the gate with his made up “gun facts”. Of course, none of his wild ideas were challenged by Reid, who only devoured them to validate her preconceived notions that all guns are evil and gun owners are bad (except her guest, of course). Never once did they address the need to prosecute criminals and hold them accountable. That, of course, would take away the need to swallow the gun control medicine.

Reid asked what changed in America to make it a “shooting gallery.”

“We have doubled the number of guns in our society in the last 20 years,” Busse answered.

That's right. According to Busse crime went up because more guns were sold, which was his job for close to 20 years. Busse's simplistic explanation ignores the fact that violent crime fell by more than 50% between 1991 and 2019, even though tens of millions of firearms were sold during that time period. It wasn't until 2020, when the COVID pandemic resulted in the closure of courts and the pullback by police in many cities and the George Floyd riots spurred on the Defund the Police movement, that violent crime and homicides spiked. And depending on what statistics you look at, that spike may have already subsided even though there've now been 58 straight months with more than 1,000,000 firearms sold (according to NSSF statistics). 


In that same interview Busse declared that "nothing is more targeted at the ability to remove the life, liberty and pursuit of happiness of fellow citizens in a second or two, dozens of them as we have seen than the right to own firearms". Once again, that's an incredibly odd position for a Second Amendment supporter to take, though it's right in line with what we expect from the prohibitionists. 

Busse also has served as an expert witness in support of gun and magazine bans, though he claims not to support a ban on so-called "assault weapons." The Gianforte campaign is going to have a field day with all of Busse's past statements and what the Democrat's "support" for the Second Amendment looks like in practice. 

Busse's also starting out from a distinct disadvantage. When all the votes are counted, it looks like roughly 100,000 Montanans will have voted in the Democratic primary, compared to more than 180,000 Republican primary voters. Turnout was down considerably in both the GOP and Democratic primary compared to four years ago, but that's worse news for Busse than it is for Gianforte. in 2020, both parties gained roughly 100,000 votes in the general election compared to the primary, and if that trend holds true in 2024 Busse will be crushed by Gianforte in November. Busse needs to be able to show he can add to the Democrats' voter rolls, and he faceplanted in his first big test on Tuesday. 


I'm curious to see how much money Giffords and other gun control groups will devote to Busse's campaign. After all, it's not every day that one of your own is a major party candidate for governor, and the gun control lobby has a vested interest in seeing Busse pull off the upset. Their primary goal, however, is to keep Joe Biden in office, and given the president's absymsal polling outfits like Everytown and Giffords are going to have to make some difficult choices about which candidates will benefit from their campaign spending. Do they waste millions of dollars propping up a Democratic gubenatorial candidate in a state that's becoming redder with every recent election cycle, or will they cut Busse more modest checks so they can spend big in more winnable races, or to prop up Biden's flailing campaign? 

Biden's clearly the top priority for the gun control lobby. After all, if he loses then they lose their office in the White House, their ATF director, and their ability to create new gun control measures through executive actions. Busse's likely to become somewhat of an afterthought for groups like Giffords if Biden's polling continues to be as absymal as its been in recent months; a candidate to support on paper, but not someone worth millions of dollars in independent expenditures. 


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