Former gun industry executive Ryan Busse discusses policy, radicalization

Closeups of author Ryan Busse and his book, "Gunfight."
Ryan Busse, a former gun industry executive who is now taking the industry to task for its role in radicalizing the country, is speaking to the WSU community Feb. 22.

A former gun industry executive who is now taking the industry to task for its role in radicalizing the country is speaking to the WSU community Feb. 22.

Ryan Busse, author of “Gunfight”, will discuss gun policy and the state of the gun industry live beginning at noon via the Thomas S. Foley Institute for Public Policy and Public Service’s Youtube page. Questions can be submitted via the event’s chat field during the event or ahead of time by emailing

The Foley Institute invited Busse to speak after its director, Cornell Clayton, learned about his book from friends who are involved in the firearms industry.

“Our gun policy debates have become so polarized by people taking extreme positions and being unwilling to listen to each other,” Clayton said. “Ryan brings a different perspective, one that’s not so polarized, representing people who appreciate guns and want to continue to use them in hunting or have them for self-defense, but believe something’s gone wrong with gun culture.”

Busse grew up in a hunting household and came to appreciate the importance of conservation, gun safety, and sportsmanship. He argues in his book that the National Rifle Association shifted its advocacy away from these tenants beginning in the 1990s in favor of more outwardly partisan political messaging that pushed aside gun owners who favored reasonable gun regulation.

In addition to gun policy being a popular topic in the Pacific Northwest, the event also coincides with a landmark legal settlement involving one of the industry’s biggest names. Earlier this week, the families of nine victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting agreed to a $73 million settlement with Remington, the manufacturer of the rifle used in 2012 to kill 20 first graders and six educators.

While not the first settlement between victims of gun violence and a manufacturer, the case could serve as the blueprint for future litigation, Clayton said.

Gun manufacturers are shielded from liability lawsuits under a federal law from 2005. Lawyers from the Sandy Hook families instead argued that the weapon used in the shooting was marketed to at-risk men through violent video games and advertisements.

“Ryan, the former vice president for marketing for Kimber Guns, knows a great deal about how guns have been marketed and sold.  His insights could tell us a lot about whether future cases based on gun advertising and marketing will be successful,” Clayton said.

For more information on the Foley Institute and upcoming events, visit the Foley Institute’s website.

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