On Thursday, writing for The Bulwark, former firearms industry executive Ryan Busse warned that pro-gun activists around the country are radicalizing with Trump supporters to effectively become "shock troops" determined to undermine democracy and threaten people with violence to get their way.
As an example, Busse pointed to the recent incident at a Turning Point USA meeting, where GOP activist Charlie Kirk talked down an attendee who said "How many elections are they going to steal before we kill these people?"
"I've met men like this before," wrote Busse. "I worked in the firearms industry as a sales executive for a long time and beginning during the Obama presidency, gun business leaders like me, who helped build the nation's top gun companies, noticed this disturbing chatter from gun owners at firearms trade shows. Many in the industry dismissed these threats. I didn't. And now we hear them from gun owners across the country who dream of deploying their arsenals to kill fellow citizens."
"What non-gun owners may not understand is that these men are not your average gun-owning Americans," warned Busse. "They are people who have fallen into a cult where it is normal to organize your entire culture around weapons of war. Some make it official by claiming membership in the Oath Keepers or Three Percenters. Some are just average suburban dads who've been radicalized ... These cosplay soldiers are kept at a high state of readiness by OAN, Fox News, and various right-wing conspiracy theorists."
The whole situation is a tinder box, wrote Busse — and violence like the attack on the Capitol on January 6 could just be the start.
"Do you doubt that if Donald Trump gave the command, that man in Idaho would be part of an armed mob rushing out to kill?" wrote Busse. "There was a time when few Americans would have supported racist vigilantes — a time when most gun owners would have used Kyle Rittenhouse as a way to scare young people into being responsible with firearms. But there was also a time — not long ago — when self-appointed militiamen who believed in QAnon conspiracies were the stuff of fiction. Today they're running for office."
You can read more here.