'Headed for absolute catastrophe': Former firearms exec warns sales of AR-15s will fuel more massacres
A gun buyer examines a custom-made AR-15-style rifle in Orem, Utah. (Photo via AFP)

In an interview with the Washington Post's Greg Sargent, Ryan Busse, who served for 25 years as vice president of sales for weapons manufacturer Kimber, claimed that, unless Congress does something about the manufacture of easily-obtainable high-powered AR15's the U.S. is poised for an "absolute catastrophe."

Speaking with the columnist in the wake of the Uvalde, Texas mass shooting that claimed the lives of 19 elementary school children and two teachers by an 18-year-old gunman armed with an assault weapon purchased online from Georgia-based Daniels Defense, Busse lamented that there is no reason to believe mass shootings will abate after all the work the industry has done to market the weapons to a younger generation.

As he revealed in the interview, AR's have become the weapon of choice of young shooters in part because industry officials learned they could reach younger men by getting their guns featured in popular weapons-heavy video games.

As Busse explained, armaments execs believed twenty years ago that the market was drying up as they fought each other to attract the attention on new customers.

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As he told Sargent, "There was lots of discussion in marketing-planning meetings about how you could get your gun model placed in a movie or a video game. That represented a solution to the problem, which was: How do we attract a new market segment away from this graying, older market segment that’s not growing?"

Pointing at the company that produced the weapon used on defenseless elementary students just over a week ago, Busse stated, "The story of Daniel Defense bursting on to the market is a case study in how the gun industry has radicalized and changed. All of the AR-15s built are pretty much the same gun. About 500 companies now build them. Twenty years ago there were one or two, and they were on the fringe of the commercial market."

According to the former gun executive, that unabated growth, along with a Congress in the thrall of the NRA and the current toxic culture wars, has the country headed down the wrong path.

"I live in red America," he explained. "If I drive through the streets where I am, almost all the vehicles that have the Trump message somewhere on them also have some kind of AR-15 sticker on the back. I think the authoritarian forces in this country view the AR-15 as a central organizing symbol."

"Rittenhouse, Buffalo, Uvalde — these things are warnings of what’s to come. You can’t put 450 million guns in a complex society — with lots of mental illness and covid shutdowns and angst and Donald Trump and insurrections — and not think you’re going to have this," he warned before adding, "And I think we are headed for absolute catastrophe."

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