President Joe Biden’s contempt for lawful gun ownership knows no bounds. His latest move threatens over a century of gains in wildlife conservation just to stick it to the firearm industry, which he once infamously labeled “the enemy.”
The White House appointed gun control activist Ryan Busse to the Hunting & Wildlife Council, an advisory committee that assists the Department of the Interior (DOI) and U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) in crafting policies on issues including wildlife conservation, wildlife management and public lands access for hunting, recreational shooting and fishing. Busse was listed as an “unaffiliated” shooting sports adviser.
That couldn’t be further from the truth. Busse is a partisan gun control zealot. He’s an adviser to the Giffords gun control group, which demands a ban on the most popular selling semiautomatic rifle in America today — the Modern Sporting Rifle (MSR). There are more than 24.4 million of these rifles in circulation today, used for lawful purposes including self-defense, recreational target shooting, and — whether Busse wants to admit it or not — hunting.
Don’t expect Busse to advocate for hunters using these rifles on the council. He’s peddling a book, “Gunfight: My Battle Against the Industry that Radicalized America.” That’s the book where he takes exception to the firearm industry for producing variants of the AR-frame rifles in response to consumer demand. He claims insider knowledge since he was once a vice president for Kimber Manufacturing. Adoring media fawned over his epiphany that just this one particular type of firearm is “bad” in their views. It plays well at leftist cocktail parties.
It’s also earned him the rebuke of his former employer for dragging the rifle and pistol maker into the fray in which it never wanted to take part.
Politics over Policy
Busse’s claim as an industry executive insider is dubious. Among industry executives, his self-inflated value was vastly overstated. An overwhelming number of executives with decades of experience in the firearm industry had never heard of him. For that matter, neither did I, and I own a Kimber handgun that was manufactured while Busse was still with the company. Busse didn’t rise to attention until he delved into the world of politics.
Busse signed on to be an adviser to President Biden’s 2020 White House campaign, a campaign platform that espoused the most far-reaching and radical gun control agenda ever proposed by a presidential campaign. The Biden campaign’s gun control proposal was, and is, more aggressive than that proposed by Hillary Clinton in 2016.
Busse was also a campaign donor to former Montana Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock, who also latched onto a policy position of banning MSRs. Gov. Bullock flip-flopped on his ideas to ban, or not to ban, AR-15s and their like before his own presidential ambitions flamed out. Ever loyal, however, former Bullock endorsed Busse’s gun control book, alongside other gun control activists including Gabby Giffords, David Hogg, and Shannon Watts.
His political alliances didn’t stop there. Busse joined Giffords at the time when David Chipman, former agent for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) — turned gun control adviser for Giffords — was still under consideration to become ATF director. That nomination didn’t survive the confirmation hearings, and the Biden administration quietly withdrew Chipman’s name. Giffords’ direct attacks against NSSF, The Firearm Industry Trade Association, became more pointed and direct.
The politics of Busse’s arrival on the Hunting & Wildlife Council are adding up. The Biden administration didn’t appoint Busse to this advisory group for his “unaffiliated” shooting sports acumen. It’s just the opposite. Busse’s appointment is a slap in the face of the industry that’s funded wildlife conservation and public lands access for nearly a century.
Firearm and ammunition makers pay a 10 and 11 percent excise tax on long guns and ammunition, as well as handguns. It’s paid to the U.S. Treasury and deposited into the Wildlife Restoration Trust Fund, under the Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Act, also known as the Pittman-Robertson Act (PR). These PR funds have totaled over $15.3 billion since 1937, or over $23 billion when adjusted for inflation. Of the $1.5 billion of these funds apportioned to the states last year for wildlife conservation, over $1.1 billion is directly attributed to taxes paid by the firearm and ammunition industry.
Not a single red penny was paid by gun control groups for wildlife conservation. In fact, their efforts to ban entire classes of firearms would result in a catastrophic crash in wildlife conservation funding. Hunters and outdoorsmen and women can’t count on Busse to stand for their interests when it comes to wildlife conservation. His record proves this.
Advocates Gun Control, Not Conservation
Busse won’t stand for sportsmen and women to speak out against the USFWS Final Rule that opens 18 National Wildlife Refuges (NWRs) but bans the use of traditional lead ammunition on those refuges without scientific evidence that it causes detrimental wildlife population impacts. The USFWS instituted the rule at the behest of special-interest anti-hunting groups, including the Center for Biological Diversity, which has been labeled “a law firm, not a scientific organization,” by The American Council on Science and Health. That’s because 50 of their 170 staff members have the title of counsel or attorney.
He also won’t stand against the secretive “sue-and-settle” agreement USFWS entered into with CBD to reverse the expansion of hunting and fishing on 2.3 million acres of public lands. Don’t expect this gun control activist to reject CBD’s pending petition to ban the use of traditional ammunition on all NWRs by 2024. These bans and expansion of the bans aren’t based on science but are a means to raise the cost of hunting by forcing hunters to purchase more expensive, but much less available alternative ammunition.
These groups know that weekend hunters trying to squeeze a day in the woods with their kids will likely be priced out of hunting altogether. With Busse working to ban their guns, and these groups working to ban their ammunition, this is a recipe for wildlife conservation disaster.
The Biden administration’s appointment of Busse to this advisory group is intentional. The administration is putting political agendas ahead of conservation. Busse no more represents the “shooting sports interests” than Chipman would have been a fair and impartial regulator of the firearm industry if he would have been confirmed as ATF Director.
Busse’s appointment, and the exclusion of a representative of the firearm industry, demonstrate the contempt The White House has for lawful gun ownership and stewards of wildlife. This is gun control agendas before all else, and wildlife conservation is the true victim.