Ryan Busse is a former gun industry executive, and the author of the book Gunfight: My Battle Against the Industry that Radicalized America. Busse grew up on a ranch, his family owned guns and he would go shooting and hunting with his family. After college, he got a job in the gun industry, won awards, and generally loved his career. However, in the early 2000s, he noticed that the gun industry was changing around him. The self-imposed decency, rules, and morals of the industry seemed to disintegrate, as the industry and the NRA realized they could be more profitable, and sell more guns, by cultivating fear. As Busse told NPR’s All Things Considered:
I assert in my book that the NRA and firearms politics are at the very center, are the thing, the place where our national division has been fomented, started, farmed, whatever, and then hand it off to the right. And it’s all based on fear. And you’re going to see it classically at the NRA convention. You’re going to hear people say, see, these people are going to use the death of these kids to come get our freedoms, to come get our rights. And you see how it’s framed into this fear of loss. Something horrible is framed into fear of loss. So the NRA perfected that – started to perfect it 20 years ago after Columbine. They made the decision there, but then they really began perfecting it as President Obama began leading in the polls in 2007.
Busse hoped that he could change the industry from within, but by 2020, he was the only dissenter left in the industry. He quit his job and wrote his book Gunfight, and joined the Giffords organization as a Senior Advisor. In the wake of recent mass shootings, Busse has been speaking out on behalf of responsible gun owners:
“We simply have to figure out a way, in a complex democracy, to figure out how to balance freedoms, which we all love – all of us want our freedoms. But none of them will be maintained, nothing will be maintained if we cannot balance them with responsibility. And that balance is just way, way out of whack.”
Learn more about Gunfight:
A former firearms executive pulls back the curtain on America's multibillion-dollar gun industry, exposing how it fostered extremism and racism, radicalizing the nation and bringing cultural division to a boiling point.
As an avid hunter, outdoorsman, and conservationist–all things that the firearms industry was built on–Ryan Busse chased a childhood dream and built a successful career selling millions of firearms for one of America’s most popular gun companies.
But blinded by the promise of massive profits, the gun industry abandoned its self-imposed decency in favor of hardline conservatism and McCarthyesque internal policing, sowing irreparable division in our politics and society. That drove Busse to do something few other gun executives have done: he's ending his 30-year career in the industry to show us how and why we got here.
Gunfight is an insider’s call-out of a wild, secretive, and critically important industry. It shows us how America's gun industry shifted from prioritizing safety and ethics to one that is addicted to fear, conspiracy, intolerance, and secrecy. It recounts Busse's personal transformation and shows how authoritarianism spreads in the guise of freedom, how voicing one's conscience becomes an act of treason in a culture that demands sameness and loyalty. Gunfight offers a valuable perspective as the nation struggles to choose between armed violence or healing.