Ryan Busse has made quite a name for himself as the gun industry insider who has turned anti-gun. The media loves to quote him and interview him, without ever looking at whether he knows what he’s talking about or not. (Spoiler: He doesn’t.)
The upside for him is that while folks like us will look at his claims critically, most media outlets will do no such thing. They’ll drink the anti-gun claims as if it’s Kool-Aid.
In fact, they’re not even necessarily going to get basic facts right.
Lawrence Keane, writing at our sister publication, Townhall, notes just how bad one outlet got it in a glowing, fawning piece about Busse.
ProPublica – a nonprofit investigative journalism outlet – published a glowing feature of Ryan Busse, the senior advisor for Giffords’ gun control group. He’s the gun control advocate who regularly poses with high-end side-by-side shotguns, plaid shirts and talks about wanting his guns for hunting but not everyone else for all other lawful reasons. He reminds everyone he was once a firearm industry advertising executive. However, he’s since had a change of heart and disdains the firearm industry. He’s also the witness on Capitol Hill who demands that Modern Sporting Rifles (MSRs) and standard-capacity magazines should be banned. ProPublica gave Busse carte blanche to opine on “gun violence” and indict the firearm industry for the insane criminal actions of deranged individuals.
What’s worse is that ProPublica’s author in the article, Cory G. Johnson, a Pulitzer prize winner, was called out by NSSF for manufacturing false facts out of whole cloth. No correction has been posted more than 72 hours after the mistake was acknowledged.
In the second paragraph of Johnson’s ProPublica feature with Busse, Johnson wrote, “According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, guns became the leading killer of children and teens in 2020, overtaking car crashes, drug overdoses and disease for the first time in the nation’s history.”
Except that’s not true. The CDC never made that claim. In fact, when the actual study is closely examined, that entire narrative falls apart.
The University of Michigan Institute for Firearm Injury Prevention published the study in 2022 making the claim that firearms were the leading cause of death among children, surpassing motor vehicles for the first time in history. The problem is that’s patently false.
The study in question includes 18- and 19-year-old adults, for one thing. Those aren’t kids. Not under the eyes of the law, anyway.
As such, including them is especially problematic.
There are other issues with the piece itself such as asking Busse a ton of questions about guns, gun control, and the firearm industry without actually contacting the firearm industry to get a different point of view. It’s an anti-gun puff piece featuring Busse.
You know it’s bad when Busse isn’t the most problematic thing in a given piece, yet here we are.
The truth of the matter is that there’s nothing about the media that should give anyone cause to believe they’re interested in a nuanced understanding of the issues. They walk in knowing what they want to cover and what they want to present to the public, more or less, and that’s what they focus on.
After all, few have challenged Busse’s claims about the gun industry. Fewer still have even noticed that Gabby Giffords literally said, “no more guns.” They don’t want people to see behind the curtain, so they’re covering everything up in hopes no one will accidentally catch a glimpse.
And these are supposed to be professionals. If they’ll botch this up, what won’t they get wrong?