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Ryan Busse: Inside the Gun Industry

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Ryan Busse: Inside the Gun Industry

Ryan Busse is a former executive of a major firearms manufacturer. During his 25 years at the company, he was nominated for multiple industry awards and became a prominent player in the industry. He saw the number of mass shootings grow exponentially during his tenure, and eventually this prompted him to quit.

Ryan’s book Gunfight exposes the gun industry’s “McCarthyesque” internal policing, and its shift away from safety and ethics to fear, conspiracy, and intolerance.

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Ryan Busse:

So, around the fringes, these more radicalized groups are setting an even more radicalized path, and the industry is following them because it's just like the political base in the Republican party. The elected officials have to follow the radicalized base because that's where the voters are.

Well, the NRA started NRA-ism, and then after it got weakened, it handed off to these more radicalized groups who are taking the base in even more radicalized directions. And the industry is following those people too.

Ken Harbaugh:

I'm Ken Harbaugh, and this is Burn the Boats. A podcast about big decisions.

Ken Harbaugh:

My guest today is Ryan Busse, a former executive for a major firearms manufacturer. His book, Gunfight exposes the industry's dramatic pivot towards a culture of fear, and intolerance, and the McCarthys tactics they use against their own employees.

Ryan, welcome to Burn the Boats.

Ryan Busse:

Thanks so much for having me today, Ken. I appreciate being here.

Ken Harbaugh:

Of course, I first learned about you a little over a year ago when I read an op-ed you wrote with the title, Shootings aren't a sign America is ‘broken’. It's working exactly as intended.

Let's start there. You imply that this era of mass shootings isn't some tragic byproduct of decisions by the gun industry. It actually has made them vastly wealthier by creating a climate of fear, which they continue to foment and which delivers massive profits.

As someone who's been on the inside of this industry at the highest levels, can you help us understand the mindset of its executives?

Because I have to believe that there's a serious degree of denial at a deep psychological level that's required to maintain this fiction that they are not individually a leading cause of kids being slaughtered. It's either that or they're just plain evil. Please help us understand.

Ryan Busse:

And there is a denialism, and to jump to the very front of this. If you ask any of them (many of them I considered close friends for a long time), at least very few, perhaps nobody, thinks that they're doing this or advocates for doing it.

But to understand how it's so unbelievably obvious, if you back up about 15, 18 years in the industry, everybody I knew and sort of the intelligent, the wise men as I call them in the industry, knew not so very long ago that propagating the sorts of things that we are propagating into society now.

And that includes not just things like AR-15s by the millions, but also, very incendiary advertising, marketing campaigns, direct links to the most politically toxic figures in our nation's history.

Those things did not happen in the industry 20 years ago. And that wasn't because laws were in place to keep those things from happening. They didn't happen because there was a voluntary prohibition against them in the industry.

In other words, everybody kind of got together said, “Eh, we're not going to allow any display of tactical gear in the industry's own trade shows.” Which is an actual truth. There was no tactical gear allowed in the industry's own trade shows. Why?

Well, again, it wasn't a law. It wasn't some nefarious socialist, communist thing from the Joe Biden presidency. The industry itself said, “Eh, displaying, or propagating, or selling, or marketing this stuff could lead to really bad outcomes.”

So, here we are today, where there are 500 companies doing this. The most egregious advertising you can ever consider is happening on a daily basis.

So, why is it that 20 years ago, the industry knew — and I was a part of it then and proud to be in it. But why is it that the industry then knew not to do that? And here we are today, with it happening at warp speed.

I have to think, if you knew it was bad 20 years ago, and you're doing it at warp speed now, how did you not think we would not end up here? Of course, we knew we would end up here.

Ken Harbaugh:

I grew up in a military family, joined the Navy. You grew up hunting. Can you describe for the rest of our audience though, what you mean by tactical gear? Paint the picture of what a trade show looks like today. The images they're selling, the lifestyle.

I mean, you refer to the tactical lifestyle and it is such a different picture than we had just 20 years ago in these trade shows in gun owning America writ large. How does it look today?

Ryan Busse:

So, first off, air quotes here, I've got my fingers up. The tactical market is now, the leading driver of the firearms industry.

Again, 18, 19 years ago, it was not allowed in the industry trade shows to display a tactical glove, a helmet, something that the police officers wore, something a SWAT team would wear, a bulletproof vest, tactical boots, tactical guns, tactical ammunition, tactical optics. None of that was allowed.

And to understand why we should grasp what tactical means. The word tactical means planned military operation. It's something you plan, it's an offensive operation. You sit around in a planning room, you get your troops together, you give them the tactical gear, you send them out and they go do something.

So, it's not like you're sitting at home defending yourself against an armed band of thugs. That's not what tactical is. It has nothing to do with self-defense. It's about being offensive.

So, again, 20 years ago, the industry said, “Eh, like encouraging everybody to be offensive. Yeah, probably bad idea.” So, no tactical gear was allowed.

You walk through the biggest gun trade show in the world, which is usually held in Las Vegas. It's the big industry show. It's called SHOT Show, Shooting, Hunting and Outdoor Trade Show.

You walk through it and not so long ago, the gun industry there appeared like what many people think the gun industry would. Target shotguns, hunting guns, some self-defense pistols. The sort of thing that I think is, in my opinion, defensible responsible firearms ownership. That's what the whole show was.

If you wanted to see tactical things or touch tactical things, you had to be a either a credentialed military officer or a credentialed police officer.

There was a curtained off area of the show. You could go in there if you were one of these types of people, and you could see the tactical stuff because that's what the tactical stuff was for.

Today, if you go in there, I don't even know how to describe to you. Like nothing I would tell the listeners could prepare you for how shocking, how completely pervasive, how the tactical mindset, the tactical lifestyle.

I mean, Ken, I am not lying to you when I tell you, you can now, buy tactical underwear in the SHOT Show.

So, it is all tactical, all the time. Long range tactical, short range tactical, AR-15s. Probably between 500 and a 1,000 companies selling tactical gear, everything. I mean, you can buy Tactical AF, as in tactical as fuck pants. That's an actual kind of pant you can buy.

If we had the next 30 days to list all the tactical gear that you see and can touch now, in the SHOT Show, we don't have enough time if this podcast ran 24/7. That's what it's like.

Ken Harbaugh:

And this stuff doesn't stay inside the trade show hangers, it spills out. It's everywhere.

There's this passage in your book, Gunfight. I don't have it in front of me, but you'll know exactly the one I'm talking about where you're with your sons at a BLM rally.

And speaking of this offensive posture that's so pervasive in gun culture today, someone literally gets in your son's chest, finger in his chest. And you described the weapon he's carrying, which is not a self-defense weapon.

Can you relay that story for us as kind of the exclamation point on how this tactical lifestyle has spilled into the streets?

Ryan Busse:

Well, it's very interesting. I had my book done and when I was speaking with my editor, my editor kept telling me, “Yes, the book's awesome. We need one more scene. You need to remember one more thing to put the readers right in the middle, put them there with you.” And I kept telling her, “I don't have anything else.”

Well, then we went down, this was June 6th, 2020. I know a lot of us have tried to put 2020 out of our minds, but you remember the kind of social turmoil that was happening 2020.

My kids, my wife, and I went down to this rally in the middle of town. And there at the rally were between a 100 and 150, again, air quotes here, Second Amendment patriots.

And I saw these people and I thought for me, it was a little bit like as if I was like a food executive for a mac and cheese company. And I walked in the store and I looked up on the shelf like, “Oh, there's my mac and cheese. That's the product I made.”

When I walked down there, and I saw all of these mostly guys, almost all guys. There were a few women, but they almost all were decked out in this tactical gear that we just discussed as if they were headed off to Fallujah.

They almost all had AR-15s. Some of them had tactical shotguns, some of them had handguns too. And one of those people, my youngest son, Badge, I mean, dude, he's 5’5”, 5’4”, 70 pounds soaking wet, little blonde-haired, blue-eyed kid. And he's just chanting, “I can't breathe,” with the rest of the high school kids and grade school kids there.

And this guy gets in his face and starts screaming at him, one of these armed guys. And then starts poking him in the chest, calling him an evil bastard.

And I lost it. I mean, not just because it was my son and I was very concerned for waving lighted matches around gasoline like that. It felt like the whole place could have exploded, and I just feel like the whole country was that way.

But also, it broke every norm of responsible gun behavior I could think of. Taking loaded guns into a place like that, intimidating people with them, open carry marching up and down the streets. And if that wasn't sort of foretelling what we saw on January 6th, well, we know it was.

Ken Harbaugh:

You addressed the breakdown of these social norms within the industry in a recent pro-public interview.

You said that there wasn't a time too long ago, maybe 15 to 20 years, when the industry understood that a sort of fragile social contract needed to be maintained on something as immensely powerful as the freedom to own guns.

And so, the industry didn't do certain things. You've talked about this already. Didn't advertise in egregiously irresponsible ways. It didn't put company growth above all other things. There were just unspoken codes of conduct the industry knew not to violate.

If those were upheld by social norms that have since crumbled, is there any hope that societal pressure and a return to those social norms can steer the industry back to being responsible? Or are we way past that point?

You know where I'm going with this. Is it time for the kind of legislation that is sometimes required to correct a breakdown in social order?

Ryan Busse:

Well, on one hand, I'm really kind of hopeful that we can fix it. And the reason I say that is because I lived in the industry where these very conscious decisions were made.

It's not like gravity came down upon us and we're like, “Oh man, have to live with this new law of physics.” It's not that way at all.

And it's the same way with our politics, really, if you think about so many of the things that happened during the Trump years were not legal issues, although we're dealing with his legalities now. They were breakdowns in norms. They were things we chose. Well, we can un-choose them.

So, in that way, it's really quite simple to fix it. It doesn't require two thirds votes in the United States Senate. It doesn't require veto overrides. It doesn't necessarily mean we need bombast from senators and congresspeople to get all this done.

They're just norms we chose. We could un-choose them. Now, as we both know, it's a lot easier to say that than to reinstitute norms of behavior.

I have long believed that for gun rights, the most pro-Second Amendment position is the most ardently responsible position because I think this right that we have to do with firearms in the United States is probably the most important and fragile thing about our democracy.

We entrust ourselves as citizens to own something very powerful and that can remove rights of many, many other citizens in just a couple seconds. And with that kind of right comes immense, immense responsibility.

And I think as with so many other places in our country right now, our balance between rights and responsibility is really out of whack.

And so, I think we as citizens, especially gun owners like myself — I'm a proud gun owner, own lots of them, hunt and shoot with my boys, believe in self-defense. Either we refine this balance of responsibility or the people of the country are going to find it for us. I'd rather do it voluntarily.

Ken Harbaugh:

I think you invoke John Adams in your TED Talk talking about the requirement for that balance between rights and responsibilities.

I'm wondering if within the industry, even at your level, at the top of the industry, is there a nuanced understanding or even any understanding of the history of the Second Amendment? Or is it just a third grade level literal reading without any of the context behind it?

I mean, went to Yale Law, we thought about it seriously. It's pretty clear to any constitutional scholar that the rights invoked by the gun industry aren't actually enshrined in the constitution. You don't have a right to a bazooka, you don't have a constitutional right to an atomic weapon.

And yet that's where the line of thinking seems to go every time you engage in a constitutional argument.

Is there a serious conversation within the industry about what the founding document actually prescribes?

Ryan Busse:

Well, there was. I'm worried about where we are now. My answer to you is right now, I'm not sure and I'm scared shitless about what the answer might actually be.

There certainly was right up until the last few years. And again, if this sounds like it's mirroring our politics, you could ask this same thing about Republican politics.

You could say, “Do these people, are they just doing this for show or do they really believe the election was stolen?” And up until about six months ago, I'd say, “Oh, come on, it's just for show.” And now, I'm like, “Oh man, I'm thinking they believe it.”

It's quite similar to that in the firearms industry. Forever for my existence, everybody understood that again, this balance of responsibilities and rights meant that certain municipalities, states, regions, whatever, had the right to impose different regulations because the constitution allowed that.

And the best thing that the firearms industry could do was maintain that social compact so that the regulations were not onerous or the balance didn't get out of whack. And that meant things.

And in fact, the industry, most people that I knew certainly after Sandy Hook, were for extending universal background checks. In other words, small, reasonable, really non debatable sort of policies that were responsible things to do.

Today, I'm worried that the Second Amendment absolutism idea. Meaning, I mean, you joked about can't own a bazooka. I think it would scare you to know how many people associated with the industry now.

Ken Harbaugh:

And not joking.

Ryan Busse:

Yeah, they're not joking.

Ken Harbaugh:

They're not joking. They literally interpret the Second Amendment as a blanket authorization to acquire and own as a private citizen, any arms. I mean, it says the right to bear arms. And they interpret that without-

Ryan Busse:

You would find, I used to joke, I'm like, “Come on, you don't need an a 10 warthog fighter plane parked in your driveway.” And 10 years ago people were like, “Oh, have another beer, Busse. That's crazy.” I mean, now, if you say that, I think you get half the people say, “Well, hell yes, I do.”

Ken Harbaugh:

Marjorie Taylor Greene just recently tweeted out (or maybe it was Lauren Boebert, they're all the same), “Where can I get an F-15? Asking for a friend.” And little tongue in cheek, but it illuminates this slippery slope that you're talking about.

Ryan Busse:

Well, it ain't slippery. I mean, it's like a cliff. And again, it's the sort of the through line in my book is that if you want to understand what's going to happen in our politics, just look at what happens in the firearms industry.

Because it's a forward indicator of what's coming in our politics and the sort of things that people like me and really responsible gun owners across America thought were unthinkable, crazy talk, fiber eight years ago are now, right in the heart of what I would call sort of the firearms rights movement.

Same way, same thing happening in Republican politics. You would say, “Come on, nobody's really going to jump on this QAnon bandwagon.” We have elected officials who are QAnon adherence now. So, the same thing's happening.

Ken Harbaugh:

You've said that there's no nuance left at the NRA, and we'll talk about some of the even more extreme organizations as well. But when their rhetoric seems to have gone to the maximum fearmongering extent possible, where do they go from there?

If they are literally at the point where they are convincing their followers and their political mouthpieces are parroting this, that the socialist government of Joe Biden is coming after every gun, how do you keep ramping that up?

I mean, I guess there's a hopeful element to this question and that at some point, rhetoric becomes so absurd that its purveyors lose moral authority, lose credibility. You've been in this world longer than I have, where do you see it going?

Ryan Busse:

Well, I'd like to think you're right. That there is this jump the shark moment where reasonable people in the country say, “Okay, obviously these people are crazy. They have been, they're espousing things that are nuts.”

I have missed my guess a few times though about how soon we're going to get here because I thought we've reached that point about four or five times already.

Ken Harbaugh:

Yeah, me too.

Ryan Busse:

To give you an idea of where this is going, and it goes right back to the interpretation of the Second Amendment. The country from the 1930s to 2008, we basically went 75, 80 years without really any meaningful Second Amendment Supreme Court case.

And for the most part, during that time, gun legislation, gun laws were ruled by a US Supreme Court case called Miller. I don't remember the rest of it, you maybe do. But essentially it said you balance rights with the needs of a society that needs to remain safe.

So, every law that came before the Supreme Court have this balancing aspect. People want to be safe and maintain their rights, and we also, have the right to own guns. Scalia with Heller upended that. And then Bruen last year really upended that.

And so, the NRA has seen all this sort of like a dog catching the car. And now, the NRA has gone from, “Yes, we have the right to own guns. Yes, we have the right to self-defense.” Again, things that I believe.

To jack it up a little bit more now, they say, “You must own guns to be ready for an armed civil war. Not you can. Not you have the rights. You must. You have a patriotic duty to buy guns to be ready to use against your fellow citizens when the time is right.”

So, you see it now, it's gone from self-defense to prepare yourself to shoot fellow citizens and be proud of it. The industry is preparing people for an armed civil war. People are training, and engaging, and arming themselves for an armed civil war.

I say it's sort of like you dump 50 million hammers into society, somebody's going to find a fricking nail. And that's what I'm worried about.

Ken Harbaugh:

Yeah, me too. We've had some shocking conversations recently on this show with people like Stan McChrystal who were terribly worried about this. And he would know, right? He led our counter-insurgency efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan.

I've got to ask though, and back to your encounter with this Second amendment patriot, so-called at the protest with your sons. How tough are these guys really?

I encounter them as well. And I think about the guys and women I served with overseas and how most of them just laugh at the cosplay, at the tactical lifestyle as you described it.

Can you shed some light on like the mentality of people who dress up like that. I'm psychoanalyzing probably a little too much here, but who compensate for something in their lives by wearing Tactical AF underwear?

Ryan Busse:

So, I think two things can be true here. First off, your insinuation about the degree to which they're jokes. We in the industry, we had two words for them. Some people call them tact hards, some people called them couch commandos.

And so, you can get from neither one of those terribly politically correct terms, the degree to which the industry itself sees these people as jokes. So, yes, there are that.

We've all seen the pictures. It's easy to joke about them. I think most of them are gutless, most of them are cosplay, but an increasing amount are ex special forces guys, are military officers themselves, actually have some training.

And this is a lot like January 6th. A lot of those people were jokes. Just enough of them actually knew what they were doing.

And I guess I think of it again, back to that match and gasoline thing. Even if most of those matches are limp and wet, it only takes one really hot one right next to the gas. And a lot of damage can be done pretty quick.

So, I think your insinuation is right to a large degree, but I'm worried about the small instances where it's wrong.

Ken Harbaugh:

That is such a validation of a thesis I have been working on for a long time. The vast majority are clowns, but it really doesn't take many force multipliers (as we say in the military) to marshal that energy, and that citizen, and that propensity for violence to do incredible damage as we saw on January 6th.

The tactical formations on January 6th that led to breaches, those were disciplined folks, a lot of them were vets. So, I see exactly-

Ryan Busse:

Well, think about you had what? Thousands and thousands of people there. Think if you just had 50 or 20 with loaded ARs and a bunch of 30 round magazines going to town. I mean 10, 5. Man, that could have turned into something unbelievably tragic.

Ken Harbaugh:

You focus a lot on the NRA, but I think we'd be remiss if we didn't acknowledge that there are even more extreme groups out there. And part of the NRAs trajectory to the extremist position they're in was an attempt to protect that flank to counter the extremism of other groups and claim that ground.

You were actually part of that. I don't know if this is an opportunity for you to explain your role in forcing the NRA to some of this extremist position when it came to security locks on weapons.

But that was an attempt by the NRA to make sure that their membership wasn't siphoned off by even more extreme organizations. But those extremists still exists and in some ways, they're even more frightening than the NRA, right?

Ryan Busse:

Yeah. So, I'll roll it back a little bit. You're referring to the Smith and Wesson agreement with the Clinton administration in 1999, in 2000. I was a pretty new kid, 28 year old, 27 year old kid in the industry then.

And I did participate when the CEO of Smith and Wesson jumped on stage with Bill Clinton and kind of announced to the industry that he had struck a deal. The industry freaked out, like, “Oh gosh, we're going to have to live with all these onerous marketing requirements.”

To simplify it, it was a bit like the cigarette settlements, which proceeded and which everybody was very worried about. And so, Smith and Weston, just to try to end run that decided to strike a deal with the Clinton administration. They tried to speak for the whole industry.

And I liken my participation then kind of like a kid in World War II. I didn't have to be told anything. I just jumped, I just ran to the recruiting office and started doing what somebody told me to do.

And I helped organize a boycott against Smith and Wesson, and we basically ran them out of business and we got that deal killed.

And I saw right then how the NRA and the industry was forming up really the beginnings of a very, very powerful cancel culture. “You step out of line, we'll run you out of business, we'll cost you your job.”

Smith and Wesson, soon after that was sold for 15 million with an M dollars because it was worthless. It was bought, revived by people from the NRA. And in 2016, Smith and Wesson's market cap was 1.69 billion. 15 million to 1.69 billion.

So, it gives you an idea of how low Smith and Wesson was driven to what they became again.

And I think that became a precursor, not just for how powerful the industry would be in keeping everybody in line, but what would eventually be done with right wing politics too. That nobody steps out of line in the Trump administration. You get run out of … it cost everything.

And the NRA, their mindset, their organization did drive all of that. Now, with the weakening of the NRA, which we've seen some … I mean, they're still an organization. They're still powerful. They're probably not at the apex of their power like they were a few years ago.

So, around the fringes, these more radicalized groups are setting an even more radicalized path. And the industry is following them because it's just like the political base and the Republican party. The elected officials have to follow the radicalized base because that's where the voters are.

Well, the NRA started NRA-ism and then after it got weakened, it handed it off to these more radicalized groups who are taking the base in even more radicalized directions. And the industry is following those people too.

Ken Harbaugh:

When I think about how society usually addresses social ills through legislation, through adapting social norms, I'm trying to see how that can be mapped on to our firearms crisis.

Because pick any other ill. Gambling, drinking, smoking. Guns are different in that they last forever. They don't expire. A gun in society is going to be around for hundreds of years.

Do we have the mindset to address the ubiquity of guns now? I think you wrote 120 guns for every a 100 Americans, over 400 million firearms. Double today, what we had just 20 years ago. And it's not like we can pull them out of circulation the way you can with the consumable.

Ryan Busse:

No. And again, this is why a lot of people don't want to deal with the issue of guns. It's kind of heavy, it seems intractable. And yet I think that this is the test of our democracy. We either figure out a way to deal with this … nothing in a democracy is perfect.

I'm so over on both sides of this. We have to have all guns all the time, or we're going to take people's guns. Come on. That's not the way democracy works. Definitely not ours.

It's going to be messy in the middle, in the gray space. Welcome to doing the hard work of a democracy. You make it a little bit better instead of making it a little bit worse.

All of the facts and figures that you rightfully note in your lead into that question are big issues. They're big problems slash opportunities slash both, whatever. They're a test.

If we're going to have a right again, as a mentally powerful as the right to own guns, which means, I mean, with that thing in your hand, you have the ability to literally take away dozens if not hundreds of people's life, liberty, and happiness in a few seconds. That's a pretty powerful right.

If we can't balance that and figure that out in this messy grace space, I'm not real hopeful about the rest of the democracy.

Ken Harbaugh:

I make a point of reading the good and the bad comments on authors who we have on the show. And you have made some real enemies after leaving the industry, especially after writing Gunfight.

I think the NSSF called you a self-aggrandizing, corporate hypocrite, bloviating about gun control to the liberal media.

First of all, congratulations. I think you can judge somebody as much by the enemies they have.

Ryan Busse:

And that's the good things to say about me.

Ken Harbaugh:

You have paid a personal cost for speaking out. This is a complicated lead in to a question about leadership, patriotism, and fatherhood. Because we're having this conversation around Father's Day. I think we're going to release it on 4th of July.

How do you talk to your sons who you've accompanied to protest with? How do you talk to them about patriotism and standing up for what's right, regardless of the cost?

Ryan Busse:

And I appreciate the compliments and yes, sometimes I don't remember. I think perhaps Teddy Roosevelt said something one time about how you can be measured by your enemies just as much as you can be measured by your friends. So, yeah, there's some credit to be taken there.

But my boys and I, and my wife, we don't spend a lot of time analyzing a lot. And a lot of people have said, “Are you sad you did it? Are you regretting?” I just got to the point I didn't feel like I had any choice.

The day we went to that BLM rally, we didn't feel like we had any choice. It needed to be done. The degree to which the industry was off the …

I have a lot of people who worked in the industry or still work in it, who quietly call me and say, “Thank you for doing this. It's way worse than you say it is. Somebody's got to say it.” And I'm like, “Well, we could put your name on a byline in The Atlantic too.” Like, “No, no, no, no, no, I'm not doing that.”

But so, I get it. Maybe I did more and more publicly than most people will, but I still don't view it as a hard decision. It wasn't like a touch and go, “Oh gosh, should I do it?” It's so obviously needs to be done and said that somebody had to do it.

Ken Harbaugh:

Non sequitur, but not really. Can you talk about what your boys are up to now, with Held versus Montana?

Ryan Busse:

Yeah. So, on the day we're recording this here, I'm going to head to trial with them in about 20 minutes.

They are part of a groundbreaking climate lawsuit against the state of Montana, essentially alleging that the outright 100% focus on fossil fuels and the crushing of renewables by the state, (which is essentially a policy by the state) violates these kids right to a clean and healthful environment.

And that phrase, clean and healthful environment is deliberately written in to the Constitution of Montana.

And it's such a magical time, I've sat in trial all week watching this. Unlike constitutional questions in the United States, we still have 9 of the 100 framers, still 9 of the framers of the 1972 Montana Constitutional Live, including the one who wrote the preamble and helped construct Article 9, which is the right to a clean and helpful environment.

Which has an affirmative phrase in it that says, “The state and the people of Montana shall improve the environment for the citizens of Montana.” Not may, not could. Shall.

And she was there. And so, any debate about what this phrase means. Well, there's not a lot of debate. The framer is sitting there. The person who wrote it and debated it is sitting there. And so, it's been quite a magical time to see this.

Now, it's a hard case to win. If it does, it'll be groundbreaking across the country. But these kids are just standing up for their future and I'm really quite proud of them. They'll impress a bunch of kids.

Ken Harbaugh:

Well, it's groundbreaking either way. The idea that a generational fight like this over an existential question is taking place in full public view in a court of law, it's going to lead to others.

So, hats off to them. You're clearly doing something right. Happy Father's Day, Ryan. It's been amazing having you on the show.

Ryan Busse:

Hey, thanks for all the work you do. And here's to America. I love the flag in the background and I'm all about taking back patriotism, so thanks for what you're doing.

Ken Harbaugh:

That was Ryan Busse. Make sure to check out his book, Gunfight. The link is in the show description.

Thanks for listening to Burn the Boats. If you have any feedback, please email the team at [email protected]. We're always looking to improve the show.

For updates and more, follow us on Twitter @Team_Harbaugh. And if you enjoyed this episode, don't forget to rate and review.

Burn the Boats is a production of Evergreen Podcasts. Our producer is Declan Rohrs and Sean Rule-Hoffman is our audio engineer. Special thanks to Evergreen executive producers Joan Andrews, Michael Dealoia, and David Moss.

I'm Ken Harbaugh, and this is Burn the Boats. A podcast about big decisions.


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Listen to Dr. Steven Hassan: MAGA is a Cult

Dr. Bandy Lee: A Duty to Warn

Burn the Boats | S:1 E:158
Psychiatrist Dr. Bandy Lee discusses Trump’s mental state, and the danger he poses to the country....
Listen to Dr. Bandy Lee: A Duty to Warn

Tristan Snell: Trump’s Legal Strategy

Burn the Boats | S:1 E:157
Tristan, who prosecuted Trump as the Assistant Attorney General of New York, talks about Trump’s legal strategy, our current judicial system, and ...
Listen to Tristan Snell: Trump’s Legal Strategy