In sum: A guy who had a lucrative career in the gun industry quits his job and writes an expose of the industry, telling us what anyone paying attention knew 30 years ago. (Republican President George H.W. Bush expressed disgust with and left the NRA in 1995.)
Like most humans with hearts, minds and souls, Busse writes that the Sandy Hook atrocity shook him up and changed his views.
On December 14, 2012, a 20-year-old man shot and killed his mother then drove to Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown Connecticut, shot his way through a glass window, entered the school and shot and killed eight boys, 12 girls (all between the ages of six and seven) and six women who worked at the school. He shot his victims multiple times (he shot one boy 11 times) then shot and killed himself. He did all this in just 10 minutes, firing hundreds of rounds from his mother’s Bushmaster XM15-E2S, a 5.56mm semi-automatic rifle that fires about 45 rounds a minute. It’s basically a civilian model of the M16-A2 I was issued in the Marine Corps without the fully-automatic capability.
Busse was so disgusted and disturbed by Sandy Hook and the gun industry’s response that he spent another whole decade working for a firearms company, spouting more lies and propaganda. Why? As stated in a book review for the New York Times: 'He was earning $210,000 a year.”
Most whistleblowers don’t wait until they’re financially secure and comfortable before blowing the whistle, but Busse’s different. He wants us to think he’s a courageous hero for now finally telling us what we knew long ago. And if you doubt he’s a courageous hero, he’ll remind you that he is on pretty near every other page.
I was struggling along through the book when I reached a part that includes me. I’m not mentioned by name, but I’m the “guy from TU.”
Some background: About 20 years ago I was the first person hired as part of a new Public Lands Initiative launched by Trout Unlimited (TU), a national nonprofit dedicated to protecting and restoring native trout and their watersheds. The initiative was the brainchild of my friend Chris Wood, who is now the executive director of TU.
President George W. Bush had just moved into the White House and was planning to expedite gas and oil development within some pretty special wild places in Montana, Wyoming, Colorado and New Mexico. The goal of the initiative was to organize and rally conservative folks to help stop it.
My first task on the job was to produce a detailed report of how Bush’s energy policies would negatively impact these wild places. I then recruited seven hunters, anglers, ranchers and outfitters and took them to Washington, D.C., to hold a press conference at the National Press Club and meet with congressional representatives. One of those people was Ryan Busse, who was then a Vice President at Kimber Firearms in Montana. In Gunfight, Busse tells how “the guy from TU” (me) asked him to come along to D.C. Here’s how he describes it:
“Look, let’s be honest,” the TU guy said. “You’re from a very conservative industry. Are you willing to criticize President Bush?” The forwardness caught me off guard. “It’s an election year. The press hook is that you look like a typical Bush voter and yet you are not happy with his policies.”
“I get all that. What’s your point?”
Our point is that you are going to get hammered on this. People are going to come after you.”
“I have a lot of street cred in this industry. They can’t come after me.”
“I don’t think they care who they kill.”
“Listen, all I’m doing is speaking out for wild places where gun owners hunt. For God’s sake, I cried when I found this place, and I hunt and shoot as much as anyone. How the hell can they criticize that?”
“OK, you’ve got balls of steel. We’ll send you a plane ticket.”
The entire conversation is fabricated. And I guarantee I have never uttered the phrase, “You’ve got balls of steel.”
I certainly don’t consider it courageous to speak out for protection of the wild places we love. I had hundreds of volunteers eager to do just that. But Busse doesn’t mention any of the others, he continues to portray himself as a lone courageous hero — one who continued working for the lucrative gun industry for another 20 years, long after the rest of us recognized what he now courageously and heroically tells us about.
(During my days working with guys, like Busse, who claimed to be “Republican” but didn’t like the GOP’s anti-environmental policies, I often wondered: Did this mean they supported the GOP’s other policies, such as their anti-gay, anti-science, anti-woman, warmongering trickle-down economic policies?)
This guy’s dishonesty, ego and self-promotion might match that of Donald Trump’s.
I couldn’t read anymore. I tossed the book.